What is Vitamin B12 and what is its function?
Vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) is an essential nutrient required by the body that plays a critical role in various vital bodily functions such as making DNA, helps to keep nerve cells and red blood cells healthy etc. Vitamin B12 is also effective in preventing the risk of megaloblastic anemia that makes people constantly feel weak and tired.
Vitamin B-12 is considered as an effective treatment for many diseases and conditions such as memory loss, fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, high cholesterol, and sickle cell disease.
What are Vitamin B12 Supplements?
Vitamin B-12 supplements are essential for fulfilling the requirement of B12 in people with Vitamin B12 deficiency. Generally, the low levels of vitamin B-12 are more likely to occur in people over age 60, which can be treated with Vitamin B12 Supplements.
Since the Vitamin B12 is made in the gut, eating enough healthy foods and proper digestion ensures that the body is getting enough Vitamin B12. Taking Vitamin B Complex further helps to deal with the daily Vitamin B12 requirement.
However, we may need to take extra Vitamin B12 Supplement if we see frequent B12 deficiency symptoms such as low energy, depression, anxiety.
Vitamin B12 supplement requirement in various age groups
The amount of vitamin B12 supplement needed by an individual depends largely on the age and certain other factors. It is important to note here that even if we are eating plenty of healthy food and animal products but if our digestive system is off, we are going to have trouble getting enough B12.
Vegetarians are the most suspect to having a B12 deficiency and hence they should supplement their diet with B12.
On an average, the Vitamin B12 supplement requirement by the individuals of various age groups are listed below-
- From birth to 6 months -0.4 micrograms
- Infants 7–12 months – 0.5 micrograms
- Children in age group 1–3 years -0.9 micrograms
- Children in age-group 4–8 years- 1.2 micrograms
- Children in age-group 9–13 years- 1.8 micrograms
- Teens 14–18 years- 2.4 micrograms
- Adults -2.4 micrograms
- Pregnant women- 2.6 micrograms
- Breastfeeding women- 2.8 micrograms
The process of absorption of Vitamin B12 from food by the body occurs in two simple steps. In the first step, the hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein to which vitamin B12 is attached to food.
In the subsequent step, vitamin B12 combines with a protein made by the stomach called intrinsic factor and is absorbed by the body. In people suffering from pernicious anemia, the body cannot make intrinsic factor which makes it difficult to absorb vitamin B12 from all foods and dietary supplements.
Best Vitamin B12 Supplement
One of the best Vitamin B12 supplement for absorption is sublingual B12 or taking injections.
Methylcobalamin: It is the most common form of Vitamin B12 supplement. There are several studies that show that it is better absorbed since it overrides a few problems that can occur in the B12 absorption cycle. Furthermore, it also provides methyl groups to the body, which are important for overall health and mood.
Vitamin B12 dietary supplements
Vitamin B12 is normally found in almost all multivitamins. Vitamin B12 Supplement is also available in sublingual forms, which gets dissolved under the tongue. However, there is no proof or evidence available that the sublingual forms are better absorbed than the Vitamin B12 pills that are swallowed. Below are the various Vitamin B12 supplements available in dietary form-
- There are a number of dietary Vitamin B12 supplements that contain only vitamin B12, or vitamin B12 with other nutrients such as folic acid
- If prescribed by a practitioner, Vitamin B12 supplement can be administered as a shot as well. This is generally used to treat the condition of vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Vitamin B12 Supplement is also available as a prescription medication in nasal gel form which can be used via nose.
It is always recommended to check the Vitamin B12 Supplement facts and label to determine the amount of vitamin B12 provided by the food or the supplement.
Best Time to take Vitamin B12 Supplement
Vitamin B12 supplement, if taken at bedtime, can stimulate and cause insomnia, lack of sleep etc
When taking a sublingual Vitamin B12 supplement dosage, it is important to let the tablet dissolve as slowly as possible under the tongue. Sublingual Vitamin B12 supplement can be taken at any time. It need not necessarily be taken with food although there are reports suggesting that taking it right after a meal has positive effects.
Various foods that provide vitamin B12
There are various food items that provide an adequate amount of B12. Vitamin B12 is generally found in a wide variety of animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and is added to some fortified foods as well.
It is important to note that plant foods do not have vitamin B12 unless they are fortified. Below are some of the food items that fulfill the Vitamin B12 requirement of the body-
- Fish, meat, Beef liver, and clams are the best sources of vitamin B12
- Poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products are also abundant in Vitamin B12
- For Vegetarians, breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts and other such food products are fortified with vitamin B12.
The consequences of lack of Vitamin B12 supplements in the body
Vitamin B12 deficiency causes several issues in long runs such as tiredness, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, constipation, and megaloblastic anemia. Among the other major problems due to the lack of adequate Vitamin B12 supplementation include-
- Nerve problems such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur
- Problems with balance, confusion, depression, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue
- Damage to the nervous system even in people who don’t have anemia
- In infants and children, signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency include slow development, delays in reaching the usual milestones while growth & development, problems with movement, and also megaloblastic anemia.