Remember when your mother told you to take your vitamins? Well, she was both wrong and right.
She was wrong because it’s actually best to get your daily vitamins by eating a nutritious diet. Nutritionists agree that vitamins are the most effective when we get them naturally through food.
But your mother was also right, because while a healthy diet is the best way to consume vitamins, most people can’t eat a perfectly healthy diet 100 percent of the time. That’s where vitamin supplements come in.
Today, we’re talking about vitamin B12. What is B12, and do you need to take B12 supplements? Here’s what you need to know.
What is vitamin B12?
The body needs vitamin B12 to perform many important functions. B12 is used to make red blood cells, nerves and DNA.
B12 is found naturally in animal products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy. When you eat these foods, your stomach breaks down protein, releasing B12, which is then absorbed by your small intestine.
Why do some people not get enough vitamin B12?
For healthy adults, the recommended daily minimum of vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms.
People who tend to be deficient in vitamin B12 include people who are age 50 or older, people who have gastrointestinal disorders, people who are strict vegans and people who take medication for ulcers and gastric reflux.
Stomach enzymes play an essential role in helping your body absorb B12. Medical conditions that interfere with the release of those enzymes can cause vitamin deficiency.
What conditions can vitamin B12 deficiency lead to?
If you are vitamin B12-deficient, you may develop the following symptoms:
- Soreness of the mouth and tongue
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Dizziness, light-headedness
- Poor memory and confusion
It’s important to identify and fix B12 deficiency early. Otherwise, it can lead to severe neurological problems and blood diseases.
What can you do if you think you’re vitamin B12-deficient?
If you think you’re vitamin B12-deficient, be sure to talk to your doctor to find out if you really do have a deficiency.
After speaking with your doctor, you can take steps to boost your B12 levels, including taking B12 supplements, eating fortified foods (such as breakfast cereals and soy products), using fortified toothpaste and, if you’ve had weight loss surgery, taking B12 injections.
Eating a nutritious diet of lean proteins, complex carbs and fruits and veggies is the best way to make sure your body is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs to perform at its best.
Vitamin B12 is one of the important nutrients your body needs to work properly. If you think you may be B12 deficient, take action by making an appointment with your doctor.