pill exploding with healthy foods that contain vitamin B12

How’s your vitamin B12 level? Chances are pretty good you have no idea. Right?

Vitamin B12 levels aren’t routinely tested, unless your doctor thinks you might be deficient. Vegetarians and people over 50 are the most likely to be deficient in vitamin B12. (1)

What does vitamin B12 do?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that helps turn the food you eat into energy. But it’s not produced in the body.

You need to get vitamin B12 from food sources or take a supplement to give your body energy for things like movement, brain function, digestion, the immune system, and your heart.

Good sources of vitamin B12 include: meats, fish, dairy products, and fortified cereals and drinks, and supplements. But if your diet doesn’t include enough of these foods and you haven’t been taking a supplement, your vitamin B12 levels could be low.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

If you are deficient, low vitamin B12 symptoms may include:

  • Anemia
  • Swollen tongue
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Pale skin
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Digestive issues
  • Reproductive problems
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet

7 powerful health benefits of vitamin B12

Wondering how much vitamin B12 do you need for best health?

Health experts recommend: (2)

  • Eating at least 3 servings of foods high in vitamin B12 per day.
  • If you’re not getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet, take a vitamin B12 supplement of 250 micrograms per day.
  • Seniors, vegetarians, and people who have had bariatric surgery should all take a vitamin B12 supplement.

Check out these powerful benefits of getting adequate vitamin B12 from food and supplements: (3)

  1. Energy boost: Vitamin B12 helps turn the food you eat into energy. It helps your body convert carbohydrates into glucose, which is used as fuel for energy. Low energy? You could be vitamin B12 deficient.
  2. Brain power: Vitamin B12 supports your nervous system, cognitive function, memory, and concentration. In the long run, it may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and disorders like dementia.
  3. Mood makeover: Sufficient vitamin B12 levels are associated with better mental health and helps regulate hormones that control mood and emotion. Low vitamin B12 levels have been linked to mood disorders and depression.
  4. Healthy heart: Vitamin B12 helps control a chemical in the blood that can raise the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots.
  5. Red blood cell boost: You need vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Low levels or a deficiency can lead to anemia, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, poor balance, and shortness of breath.
  6. Gut check: As you age, if you’ve had bariatric surgery, or a malabsorption disorder, your ability to absorb vitamin B12 declines. Without enough vitamin B12, you may experience digestive issues, but taking a supplement can help.

Your body needs vitamin B12 to stay energized, keep your brain and nerves healthy, support strong red blood cells, maintain a happy heart, and support your digestive system. Choose foods high in vitamin B12, take a supplement or both.

References

  1. National Institutes of Health. (2022). Vitamin B12. From: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
  2. Greger, M. (2023). The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and optimal dosage for adults. NutritionFacts.org. From: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/friday-favorites-the-symptoms-of-vitamin-b12-deficiency-and-optimal-dosage-for-adults/
  3. Harvard University. (2022). Should you take a vitamin B12 supplement? Harvard Health Publishing. From: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-take-a-vitamin-b12-supplement

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