Common Questions and Answers About B12

Common Questions and Answers About B12

What is B12?

Cobalamin, better known as vitamin B12, is a water-soluble substance used by multiple systems in your body.  It is one of thirteen unique vitamins that your body needs but cannot create on its own.  B12 is the only vitamin that is found exclusively in animal products, as it is not needed by plants.

How Important is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is important for every cell in your body, and is also significant for your heart and brain health.  B12 is used to ensure that your nervous system functions properly, allowing your brain to communicate effectively with the rest of your body.  It also aids with heart health and is used in the creation of new blood cells.  Additionally, B12 is responsible for metabolism in all cells, so it is very important for your body’s ability to store and burn fats for energy production.

How Much B12 is Recommended?

The amount of B12 you need varies based upon age.  Measurements are in micrograms (mcg).

Children less than a year old need around 0.5 mcg a day.  Children 1-3 years old need around 0.9 mcg a day.  Children 4-8 years old need around 1.2 mcg a day.  Children 8-13 years old need around 1.8 mcg a day.  Teenagers and adults need around 2.4 mcg a day, with pregnant and breastfeeding women requiring about 0.5 more mcg per day.

What are Good Sources for B12?

B12 is found only in animal products.  Fish, meat, eggs, milk, and poultry are all foods that are rich in vitamin B12.

What are the Benefits of B12?

B12 has a large impact on many systems and functions throughout your body.  There are no cells that are not influenced in some way by B12, so having adequate amounts has numerous potential benefits.  Some of these include:

  • Increased metabolism
  • Improved mood
  • Easier time focusing and concentrating
  • Elevated energy levels
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Increased red blood cell production
  • Improved liver function
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and mental disorders

 

What are Signs of a Deficiency of B12?

B12 is required for your body to run smoothly, and because it is used by so many different systems for many different reasons, the symptoms of a deficiency are very numerous.  Some of the more common symptoms of a deficiency include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Fatigue or weariness
  • Memory loss
  • Difficult concentrating
  • Aches and pains

Is a B12 Deficiency Dangerous?

The sooner it is diagnosed, the less dangerous a B12 deficiency might be.  Unfortunately, B12 deficiency is often ignored and its symptoms blamed on a different pre-existing condition.  Because a B12 deficiency increases the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and numerous psychological conditions, the longer a deficiency exists, the more dangerous, and potentially life-threatening, it becomes.

What Causes a B12 Deficiency?

Diet is the leading cause of B12 deficiency.  It is found only in animal products, so people who consume little meat will find it more difficult to get enough B12.  Vegetarians and vegans are especially at risk due to their low B12 diets.

B12 is also more difficult for the body to properly absorb than most vitamins, meaning that even a diet that contains adequate amounts of it may not be enough to meet your body’s B12 needs.  Any condition that further lowers your absorption rates will increase the risk of B12 deficiency.