Vitamin B12 (also called cobalamin) Is an essential part of our diet. It is necessary for the nerves in our body to function properly, and for the body to create a proper number of red blood cells.
What foods contain Vitamin B12?
There are high levels of Vitamin B12 in most animal products that we eat including red meat and poultry, milk and eggs.
How Common is Vitamin B12 deficiency?
In most children and middle aged adults Vitamin B12 deficiency is quite rare. The specific groups of people that are at high risk include strict vegans, alcoholics, People with an intestinal disorder that causes malabsorption (such as Inflammatory bowel disease or Celiac disease), people who have had a gastric bypass operation, and the elderly. Deficiency in older individuals is actually quite common, ranging from 5 to 15 percent, not because of dietary deficiencies, but because as we age, our bodies become much less efficient at absorbing B12 from our intestinal tract.
How long does Vitamin B12 stay in the body?
Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, and our stored can last a long time. It can take months or years to use up the stores that the liver can hold, so when people do become deficient, it almost always comes on slowly over a long time, rather than as a sudden change.
What are the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency?
Symptoms are often quite vague and nonspecific. If the deficiency has gone on long enough to cause a low blood count, (called anemia) the person will feel fatigued. If the deficiency has gone on long enough to impair nerve function, the person can get numb and tingly in their hands and feet.
How do you test for Vitamin B12 deficiency?
Testing for B12 levels is a simple blood test that can be done in your doctor’s office, or possibly even at a health fair.
How do you replace B12 if levels are low?
There are several common ways. There are over-the-counter pills (usually 1mg per day) that will normalize levels for most people. If that doesn’t work or if someone doesn’t want to have to be on a pill every day, a once-a-month shot also works well. This can be done at a doctor’s office, or people can learn how to give themselves their own shot at home.
Can you take too much Vitamin B12?
Some vitamins are definitely toxic if taken in high amounts, (such as A, E, and D), but vitamin B12 is very safe, and serious side effects from overdose are essentially unheard of.