If you have watched any TV lately you have probably seen advertisements for vitamins of some sort. Among the most important vitamins that humans take in is vitamin b12. It ranks as one of the most important vitamins that we must have. You may ask yourself, “Should I take vitamin B12?”
What does it do?
Vitamin B12, like all other vitamins, is an enzyme. An enzyme acts as a catalyst to speed up processes in digestion in the body. Without these enzymes our bodies would not be able to ingest the nutrients we need.
Vitamin B12 is a necessary nutrient for the body to build healthy nerve and blood cells. It also helps is used in building the DNA of body cells. B12 is a necessary vitamin which helps prevent a type of anemia, megaloblastic anemia, which causes a state of weakness and tiredness.
How is B12 absorbed in the body?
There are two steps that are required for B12 to be absorbed by the body. In the stomach hydrochloric acid separates vitamin B12 from the protein it is attached to in food. Then B12 combines with another protein made by the stomach called intrinsic factor. It is then absorbed into the body in the intestines.
There are occasions when the body does not produce the intrinsic factor protein and the person develops pernicious anemia.
How much is needed?
Your need of vitamin B12 varies depending on your age.
Average daily recommended amounts for different ages are listed below in micrograms (mcg):
|Life Stage||Recommended Amount|
|Birth to 6 months||0.4 mcg|
|Infants 7–12 months||0.5 mcg|
|Children 1–3 years||0.9 mcg|
|Children 4–8 years||1.2 mcg|
|Children 9–13 years||1.8 mcg|
|Teens 14–18 years||2.4 mcg|
|Pregnant teens and women||2.6 mcg|
|Breastfeeding teens and women
Where do we find B12?
In nature, plant foods have no vitamin B12. The only way that plant foods have vitamin B12 is if they are fortified with it in the process of preparing them as food to be eaten. Naturally, B12 is found in a wide variety of animal foods.
What foods provide this vitamin?
You can get recommended amounts of vitamin B12 by eating a variety of foods including the following:
- Beef liver and clams, which are the best sources of vitamin B12.
- Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products, which also contain vitamin B12.
- Some breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts and other food products that are fortified with vitamin B12. To find out if vitamin B12 has been added to a food product, check the product labels.
Where can we find B12 supplements?
Almost all multivitamins contain vitamin B12. Check the label to see the amounts. Other supplemental vitamins which contain vitamin B12 also have folic acid and other B vitamins as well. Again, check the label to see the amounts of B12 they may contain.
One of the more popular forms today is that of B12 sublingual which is absorbed under the tongue.
Occasionally, B12 is administered by injection. This is usually used when there is a vitamin B12 deficiency.
One of the latest forms of prescription B12 is a nasal gel for use in the nose.
Are you getting enough
It is estimated that up to 15% of the American population do not get enough vitamin B12 in their diet. There are some who are not able to absorb enough from the food they eat. The only sure way to know if you are B12 deficient is to have your doctor test for it.
Certain groups may not get enough vitamin B12 or have trouble absorbing it. Here is a list:
- Many older adults, who do not have enough hydrochloric acid in their stomach to absorb the vitamin B12 naturally present in food. People over 50 should get most of their vitamin B12 from fortified foods or dietary supplements because, in most cases, their bodies can absorb vitamin B12 from these sources.
- People with pernicious anemia whose bodies do not make the intrinsic factor needed to absorb vitamin B12. Doctors usually treat pernicious anemia with vitamin B12 shots, although very high oral doses of vitamin B12 might also be effective.
- People who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery, or who have digestive disorders, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease. These conditions can decrease the amount of vitamin B12 that the body can absorb.
- Some people who eat little or no animal foods such as vegetarians and vegans. Only animal foods have vitamin B12 naturally. When pregnant women and women who breastfeed their babies are strict vegetarians or vegans, their babies might also not get enough vitamin B12.
What are some symptoms of not enough B12?
Among the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are: tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss and megaloblastic anemia. You may also experience numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.
Other symptoms include balance problems, depression, confusion, dementia, and soreness of mouth or tongue. Vitamin B12 deficiency can damage the nervous system even in people who don’t have anemia
B12 Effects on health
As they get older, some people develop dementia. These people often have high levels of homocysteine in the blood. B12 (with folic acid and B6) can lower homocysteine levels, but scientists don’t know yet whether these actually help prevent or treat dementia.
Can taking it harm you?
Vitamin B12 has not been shown to cause any harm.
Does taking it raise my energy level?
If you have a deficiency you can enhance your level of energy by taking B12 supplements. If you already have sufficient B12, taking more will not noticeably raise your energy level.
Are there any interactions that I should know about?
It has not been shown to cause any harm.
However, if you are on any medication you should check with your doctor to see if there is any interaction that might occur with your medicine.
Should I take a B12 supplement?
If you feel that your energy level is not where it should be, then you might consider taking a B12 supplement. Asses your diet and the foods that you are eating. If you are eating what you think is a good balance of foods, then adding a supplement may be what you need.
If your diet is not well-balanced and cannot be easily corrected, then a supplement may be just what you need. As soon as possible adjust your diet.
If you are in a position or job in which you expend a lot of energy, then a B12 supplement may be just the thing you need. Try a good supplement, not a cheap one, and see if you experience and increase in energy level. Give yourself a month or so. If your energy level does not increase, the check with your physician.
You can not take too much because your body will only use what it needs and will excrete the excess. Your body does not store B12 so there is no possibility of having too much.
Conclusion- Should I take vitamin B12
Though all are important, B12 is probably one of the most important. If you wish to have a healthy lifestyle and be able to do the things you enjoy, B12 should be a supplement you take.
Even if you are not as active as you used to be, B12 will help maintain your cognitive abilities. Since it combats dementia it is a supplement that every senior citizen should consider.
Though B12 is included in almost all multivitamins taking an additional supplement will guarantee a good and healthful level.
There are many brands and forms to choose from, most of which are good supplements. To help you in answering the question of “Should I take vitamin B12?”, I recommend the supplement brand below. You can read more about it by clicking the link.
God bless you!