What Is Vitamin B12 Good For?
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is important for the functioning of the brain and nervous system and contributes to blood cell formation. Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in foods derived from animals. Both vegans and vegetarians are therefore at risk of not getting enough of the vitamin.
- What is vitamin B12?
- Vitamin B12 in the diet
- Vitamin B12 as a supplement
- Can you take too much B12?
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is also called cobalamin and is a water-soluble vitamin that has many important functions in the body. B12 is needed for the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and is also important for the formation of red blood cells. Too little B12 in the diet can lead to anemia, which means that the number of red blood cells (hemoglobin) is lower than normal. Hemoglobin is what helps transport oxygen in the blood, and if levels are too low, this can manifest itself through fatigue, dizziness, tingling in the feet and legs and shortness of breath.
Vitamin B12 is the least soluble of all B vitamins and can therefore be stored slightly longer in the body than other B vitamins. The vitamin is stored in the liver, and a person who has had a good intake of the vitamin may have enough for up to 5-10 years (in exceptional cases up to 30 years).
Vitamin B12 in FOOD
Meat, fish, eggs, shellfish and dairy products are good sources of vitamin B12. The vitamin cannot be produced by either plants or animals, only bacteria can produce it. Animals can then eat the bacteria and get the vitamin. Plants, on the other hand, have no need for B12 and therefore never contain it. The only vegetable source of B12 is acidic vegetables, which can form some of the vitamin through lactic acid bacteria.
Some vegetables and algae contain types of B vitamins, but many of these are types that humans are not able to absorb. The body cannot produce its own vitamin B12, instead you have to add it via food, drink or supplements.
There are several ways to get a supplement of vitamin B12. It can be found in many different multivitamins, B-vitamin complexes and as an individual B-vitamin supplement. In addition, some food products are fortified with vitamin B12, such as oat, soy and rice drinks, which otherwise lack this vitamin completely. Organic varieties of these drinks are not fortified.
The recommended daily dose for an adult is at least 2 micrograms per day (slightly more for those who are breastfeeding), but those who eat an animal diet often get 5-15 micrograms per day. It is mainly vegans and vegetarians who risk not reaching the recommended dose, but also lacto-ovo vegetarians as the amount of B12 in dairy products is sometimes insufficient. These people in particular therefore need to add vitamin B12 as a dietary supplement to avoid anemia.
Can you get too much vitamin B12 in your body?
The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 is 2 micrograms per day, but no adverse effects have been shown to result from a higher intake than this. An intake of up to 100 micrograms of cobalamin, whether from the diet or a dietary supplement, has not shown signs of being harmful. With that said, it is of course good to keep an eye on your various supplements so that you know the total amount of B12 you intake daily.