The Importance of Consuming Food Containing Vitamin B12
Cobalamin, more commonly known as vitamin B12, is vital for the role it
plays in the synthesis of DNA and RNA(2). Vitamin B12 aids in the
metabolism of fat and carbohydrates, and in the formation of red blood
cells. It also helps keep neurological balance.
The Dangers of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
deficiency can lead to a diverse set of hematologic disorders (e.g.,
, anemia and other blood cell disorders) and neuropsychiatric disorders
(e.g., subacute combined degeneration or SCD, which affects the peripheral
nerves and spinal cord). If treated in time, these symptoms of vitamin B12
deficiency will go away. If not treated in time, these symptoms can become
permanent conditions, even when the vitamin B12 deficiency no longer
One of the best ways to prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency is to eat foods
containing vitamin B12. However, vitamin B12 is only found in plants when
the plants are rich with microorganisms. As a result, many vegetarians and
vegans need to seek out alternative methods of maintaining their vitamin
How Much Vitamin B12 Does the Body Need?
The human body only needs about two micrograms of vitamin B12 to function
properly. If your body is using and recycling vitamin B12 properly then you
need to consume a small amount of vitamin B12 or not consume it at all.
However, a large percentage of the population needs some regular vitamin
B12 intake to maintain these two micrograms. This is usually because most
people are not able to properly absorb vitamin B12.
Sources of Vitamin B12
Most animal-derived foods contain some vitamin B12. If you are in
, you can get the two micrograms of vitamin B12 that your body needs by
just eating some dairy and eggs.
However, because of the alarming number of people who cannot easily absorb
vitamin B12 into their systems, many vegetarian foods fortified with
vitamin B12 such as Nutri-Grain products, nutritional yeast and soy analogs
are available. Tempeh is a good vegetarian source of vitamin B12. You can
find out if any of these products have vitamin B12 by reading their labels.
Many sea vegetables such as spirulina and nori contain vitamin B12
analogues, which appear similar to vitamin B12. However, some researchers
believe that B12 supplements such as spirulina may actually increase the
risk of vitamin B12 deficiency because the body recognizes the vitamin B12
analogues in spirulina as vitamin B12 but these vitamin B12 analogues don't
function exactly the same.
Because so many people have trouble maintaining vitamin B12 levels, taking
is recommended for those who do not regularly consume dairy products, eggs
or vitamin B12 fortified foods. Even those who do eat these products are
often recommended to take vitamin B12 supplements if they have shown signs
of difficulty in absorbing vitamin B12 or if they are of an advanced age
when difficulty with absorption becomes more common.
See Other LifeSource Vitamins Vitamin B & Methyl B Products,
Articles and Studies:
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