There are numerous vitamins and minerals that are necessary for our bodies to perform at top efficiency but it can be hard to fit them all in our daily diet. For some vitamins, it is necessary to take a supplement to ensure that you are getting the amount needed every day, including Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 has a large role in maintaining many vital functions in our body, including those to do with the brain and nervous system.
Vitamin B12 Benefits
Vitamin B12 is so vital to your health. Your body requires Vitamin B to:
- Assist in the production of energy in cells
- Maintain the nervous system
- Prevent brain shrinkage
- Grow and develop as a child
- Protect against heart disease and stroke
- Lower bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- Reduce the risk of breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancers
- Promote skin, hair, and nail cell production
- Maintain proper circulation
- Support female health
- Promotes mental health and memory
Where Do I Get Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is found naturally only in animal by-products like meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. Since it is only found in animal by-products, it is extremely important for vegetarians to purchase food that has been fortified with extra vitamins or to supplement with B12. Vitamin B12 can also be consumed through nasal sprays, gels, and injections.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Knowing whether you are Vitamin B12 deficient can be difficult because it is stored organs like the liver and kidneys. However, when symptoms do show, you might experience:
- Decreased memory function
- Pernicious anemia
- Tingling and weakness in the limb
Who Needs to Supplement with Vitamin B12?
As you age, your body absorbs B12 at a decreased rate. Because of this, if you are older than 50, you need to consume or supplement around 6 to 15 micrograms per day. Fortified foods offer quick absorption of B12.
Since a vegetarian diet does not offer any sources of B12 naturally, it is extremely important for vegetarians to find a way to add Vitamin B12 to their diets. The easiest and most readily available way would be through supplementing with Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 Needs a Protein to Absorb Properly
Vitamin B12 is the largest vitamin molecule that exists. For this reason, it requires a protein, known as intrinsic factor, to help in the absorption process. Intrinsic factor is a protein that is made in the stomach lining. Intrinsic factor will attach to Vitamin B12 in the stomach and travel with the B12 into the small intestine. When entering the large intestine, intrinsic factor will pull the large B12 molecule into the intestine, where the B12 can then be absorbed by your body.
If your body does not make enough intrinsic factor that allows for your body to absorb Vitamin B12 in the large intestine, you may develop pernicious anemia.