Many people do not pay enough attention to their vitamin B12 intake. This water-soluble vitamin is found in certain animal-based foods. However, it is available as a supplement as well.
This vitamin performs various functions in the human body, so it is an essential nutrient for our health. Our body does not produce vitamin B12, so it is of utmost importance to get it regularly.
How Much Should We Get?
This depends on different factors such as medical condition, age, use of medications, and eating habits.
The National Institute of Health claims that according to the age, this is the recommended average dose:
- Infants (0-6 months) – 0.4 mcg
- Babies (7-12 months) – 0.5 mcg
- Children (1-3 years) – 0.9 mcg
- Kids (4-8 years) – 1.2 mcg
- Children (9-13) – 1.8 mcg
- Teens (14-18 years) – 2.4 mcg\
- Adults – 2.4 mcg
- Pregnant women – 2.6 mcg
- Breastfeeding women – 2.8 mcg
Sources of Vitamin B12
Animal-based foods like dairy products, fish, milk, meat, cheese, and poultry have a high content of vitamin B12.
These are the 10 best sources of vitamin B12:
- Lamb: 0.8 mg in 3 ounces
- Raw milk: 1 mg in a cup
- Beef tenderloin: 0.9 mg in 3 ounces
- Chicken and beef liver: 81 mg in 3 ounces
- Herring: 143 mg in a fillet
- Salmon: 108 mg in a fillet
- Turkey: 1.1 mg in 3 ounces
- Organic yoghurt: 170 g in a container
- Trout: 9.1 mg in a fillet
- Mackerel: 15.3 mg in 3 ounces
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to mood changes, fatigue, brain fog, and lack of motivation.
These are the most common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Jaundice (yellow and pale skin)
- Vision loss
- Weakness and tiredness
- Joint pain and muscle weakness
- Mental issues, like depression, memory loss or behavioral changes
- Inability to concentrate
- Hallucinations and paranoia
- Walking difficulties
- An inflamed and swollen tongue
- Loss of appetite, diarrhea, gas and constipation
- Brain and mental fog
- Shortness of breath and heart palpitations
- Tingling, numbness and burning sensation in the legs, feet and hands
It is estimated that more than 40% of the Americans are deficient in vitamin B12, especially those with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
If you suffer from the following health problems, you are more likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Atrophic gastritis
- Immune system disorder, like lupus and Graves disease
- Pernicious anemia
- Small intestine issues like bacterial or parasite growth, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease
Vitamin B12 Test
To test your vitamin B12, ask your doctor for an intracellular B12 test. Homocyteine and Methylmalonic Acid are other indirect measures of vitamin B12 function. However, they are less accurate than the intracellular test
Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
- Heartburn medications
Heartburn is the main symptom of gluten sensitivity and digestive disorders. Prescribed heartburn medications can obstruct the activity of the Parietal cells, thus lowering the stomach acid levels.
Instead of treating the symptoms with medications, you should determine the causes of heartburn medications.
- Pernicious anemia
This autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks the body cells responsible for the production of IF protein and stomach acid.
If the immune system attacks parietal cells, they will not produce Hydrochloric acid, which eliminates vitamin B12 from the dietary molecules.
The Intrinsic factor carries the vitamin B12 through the intestinal cells to the bloodstream. If they are not able to produce intrinsic factor, they will not absorb vitamin B12. This leads to cellular deficiency.
- Intestinal permeability or Leaky gut syndrome
There are many causes for the leaky gut syndrome, including dairy protein sensitivity, parasitic infections, gluten sensitivity, H. pylori, and other intestinal bacterial infections.
These problems produce bacteria, which can destroy the gut lining walls, which allows the entrance of toxins and bacteria into the bloodstream, which harms the immune system. This reduces the ability of our body to absorb vitamin B12.
- Chemotherapy treatment
Chemotherapy is very harmful to our health. Chemo medications can cause stomach and gut cell irritation, which leads to various negative effects.
- Poor gut microbiome
The good bacteria break down the food we eat and absorb the important nutrients in the bloodstream. An imbalance of gut bacteria can cause poor absorption of essential vitamins, such as vitamin B12.
To prevent the growth of bad bacteria, make sure to avoid or limit the sugar intake and consume more vegetables
Benefits of Vitamin B12
The deficiency of vitamin B12 is the main nutrient deficiency worldwide. This vitamin can improve your heart, skin, digestion, energy, mood, hair, and memory. Find out more about the health benefits of vitamin B12!
- Boosts up the levels of energy
Vitamin B12 transforms carbohydrates into useful glucose, which is used as energy. In this way, it boosts our metabolism. Because of this, people who have vitamin B12 deficiency, experience fatigue.
- Reduces the risk of neurodegenerative issues and prevents memory loss
The deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause psychiatric and neurological disorders. It is very important for neurotransmitter and nerve health.
It can enhance cognitive ability and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- It enhances the function of the nervous system and improves mood
Vitamin B12 is very important for cognitive processes and concentration. So, if you are deficient in vitamin B12, you are more likely to experience difficulties in focusing and a higher risk of attention disorders.
- It enhances heart health
This vitamin is highly beneficial for your heart health. It has the ability to reduce Homocyteine levels, the main cause of heart disease.
In this way, it prevents heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin B12 can also regulate high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
- Enhances hair and skin health
Vitamin B12 is involved in the reproduction of cells. It is very important for your skin, nail, and hair health.
It can reduce inflammation, acne, blemishes, redness, dryness, and treat psoriasis and eczema.
- It enhances digestion
This vitamin helps produce digestive enzymes. It boosts the metabolism and supports the breakage of food in the stomach. Vitamin B12 increases good bacteria in the gut, thus enhancing digestion.
The presence of good bacteria and the elimination of bad bacteria can prevent digestive disorders, like Candida and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Prevents cancer
Vitamin B12 can reduce the risk of cancer, especially if taken with folate. The researchers claim that this vitamin can enhance the immune system and fight colon, cervical, and prostate cancer.
- Prevents anemia and produces red blood cells
Vitamin B12 is very important for the production of red blood cells. It has the ability to prevent all types of anemia, especially megaloblastic anemia (the main cause of chronic fatigue and weakness).