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B-12 Benefits

Overview

B-12 can help boost your:

  • energy
  • concentration
  • memory
  • mood

What is vitamin B-12?

Vitamin B-12, or cobalamin, is a nutrient you need for good health. It’s one of eight B vitamins that help the body convert the food you eat into glucose, which gives you energy. Vitamin B-12 has a number of additional functions.

You need it for the:

  • production of elements of DNA
  • production of red blood cells
  • regeneration of bone marrow and the lining of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts
  • health of your nervous system, which includes your spinal cord
  • prevention of megaloblastic anemia

How much vitamin B-12 to take

The amount of vitamin B-12 you need is primarily based on your age. The average recommended daily amounts of vitamin B-12 are:

  • birth to 6 months old: 0.4 micrograms (mcg)
  • 7-12 months: 0.5 mcg
  • 1-3 years: 0.9 mcg
  • 4-8 years: 1.2 mcg
  • 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
  • 14-18 years: 2.4 mcg
  • 19 and older: 2.4 mcg
  • pregnant teens and women: 2.6 mcg
  • breast-feeding teens and women: 2.8 mcg

Vitamin B-12 is naturally in foods that come from animals, including:

  • meat
  • fish
  • eggs
  • dairy products

It also may be in some fortified cereals and nutritional yeast.

What is a vitamin B-12 deficiency?

Although most Americans get enough vitamin B-12, some people are at an increased risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency, particularly those who:

  • have celiac disease
  • have Crohn’s disease
  • have HIV
  • take prescription antacids, anti-seizure medications, colchicine, or chemotherapy medications
  • are vegans and don’t eat meat or dairy products
  • drink alcohol regularly
  • have an immune dysfunction
  • have a history of bowel disease, such as gastritis or Crohn’s disease

The symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency include:

  • shakiness
  • muscle weakness
  • muscle stiffness
  • muscle spasticity
  • fatigue
  • incontinence
  • low blood pressure
  • mood disturbances

The most serious condition associated with vitamin B-12 deficiency is megaloblastic anemia. This is a chronic blood disorder in which the bone marrow produces overly large, immature blood cells. As a result, the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body.

 

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