Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining good health. It is required for development, myelination and functioning of our Central Nervous System, healthy Red Blood Cell formation and DNA Synthesis. Myelination is the process by which brain oligodendrocytes produce layers of myelin. Vitamin B12 is a Nutrient and the genetic material in all our cells. It also helps in preventing Megaloblastic Anemia which is a blood condition that makes us tired and weak. Megaloblastic anemia is a form of anemia characterized by very large red blood cells and a decrease in the number of those cells.
Vitamin B12 contains the mineral Cobalt. Compounds with vitamin B12 activity are collectively called “Cobalamins”. The most common cause of Megaloblastic Anemia is deficiency of either Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) or Folate (Vitamin B9). These two vitamins serve as building blocks and are essential for the production of healthy cells such as the precursors to red blood cells.
So how much Vitamin B12 do we need?
The amount of Vitamin B12 requirement varies with age. The following shows a daily recommended amount for different age groups.
- Birth to 6 months 0.4 mcg
- Infants 7–12 months 0.5 mcg
- Children 1–3 years 0.9 mcg
- ” ” From 4–8 years 1.2 mcg
- ” ” From 9–13 years 1.8 mcg
- Teens 14–18 years 2.4 mcg
- Adults 2.4 mcg
- Pregnant teens and women 2.6 mcg
- Breastfeeding teens and women 2.8 mcg
Where or how could we get Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is available in a wide variety of Animal Foods naturally. It is also available in some Fortified Foods. Plant Foods will not have Vitamin B12 unless they are Fortified. Food fortification involves the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods as part of manufacture or processing.
Vitamin B12 is available in Fish, Meat, Poultry, Eggs, Milk etc. Clams and Beef Liver are some good sources of Vitamin B12. Certain Breakfast Cereals also contain Vitamin B12. It is also available in Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplements, B-Complex Supplements etc.
The symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency can take several years to appear. Our body stores 1000 to 2000 times as much Vitamin B12 of our typical daily eating. A person having Vitamin B12 deficiency may feel tired or weak. One might also have Pale Skin, Heart Palpitations, loss of Appetite, Weight Loss, and Infertility. Your hands and feet might become numb or tingly, a sign of nerve problems.
Read more about Vitamin B12 at National Institutes of Health
Source of information: National Institute of Health
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is only for public awareness. Get tested for Vitamin B12 deficiency if you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above. Never attempt any medication yourselves, without consulting a doctor.