What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is available as a dietary supplement, naturally present in some foods, added to others and as a prescription medication.
What Does Vitamin B12 Do?
In the simplest terms vitamin B12 is required for good red blood cell development, neurological function and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is bound to certain proteins in food and is broken down in the stomach into a “free” form that is absorbed into the body.
What is the Recommended Dietary Allowances for Vitamin B12?
According to the Institute of Medicine the recommended daily allowance (RDA) varies by age and gender. The table below lists the current (as of 2012) RDAs for vitamin B12 in micrograms (mcg).
Recommended Dietary Allowances for Vitamin B12
|0-6 Months||0.4 mcg|
|7-12 Months||0.5 mcg|
|1-3 Years||0.9 mcg|
|4-8 Years||1.2 mcg|
|9-13 Years||1.8 mcg|
|14+ Years||2.4 mcg|
Common Food Sources of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat poultry, eggs, milk and milk products. Many breakfast cereals and other foods are fortified with B12.
What Are Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Vitamin B12 deficiency is characterized by megaloblastic anemia, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue and weakness. Neurological changes, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can occur. Additional symptoms include dementia, depression, confusion, difficulty maintaining balance, poor memory, confusion and soreness of the mouth or tongue.
Who’s at Risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
- Pregnant and lactating women who follow strict vegetarian diets and their infants
- Older adults
- People with pernicious anemia
- People with gastrointestinal disorders
- Individuals who have had gastrointestinal surgery
Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient for healthy Americans as is maintaining a healthy diet. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat milk (milk products). Include lean meats such as chicken, fish and certain cuts of red beef. Fish and red meat are a great source of vitamin B12
For additional information visit http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb12
This information should not replace medical advice and for informational purposes only. You should talk to your health care if you have concerns or questions about your health.