Vitamin B12 is a member of the B Complex, a group of vitamins, each with a unique function in the body, but synergistically regarded for how they help the body’s cells produce energy. Vitamin B12, along with thiamin (B1), niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin, and folate make up the B Complex.
MIGHTY VITAMIN B12
B12 is essential to the production of new DNA, red blood cells, proteins, hormones and fats, as well as regulating mood and maintaining healthy nervous and immune systems.
If you aren’t getting enough B12 through diet, or your body isn’t absorbing or using it efficiently, you can become deficient. B12 deficiency affects up to 15% of people in the U.S.
A B12 deficiency can lead to a range of health problems:
The aging process, a vegan diet, stress, certain medications, and illness can alter your body’s ability to utilize B12 from food. Medications, such as those for reflux or Type 2 diabetes, affect B12 absorption. Also, if you’ve had major surgery, have digestive problems, or Celiac Disease you have an increased risk for B12 deficiency.
WAYS TO GET VITAMIN B12
Most people who eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy products get enough B12. Vegans are advised to eat fortified food and take supplements because B12 is not found in sufficient amounts in plant foods. Carefully read labels for fortified food claims, as these foods can be loaded with preservatives that don’t contribute to your health.
For nutrition supplements, B12 is available as:
- A multivitamin — often the best approach for people who don’t have a deficiency
- A prescription for injection or as a nasal gel
- A tablet that dissolves under the tongue (sublingual)
There are many different forms of B12. I prefer to use methylcobalamin as research has shown this form has a higher stability and bioavailability. Hydroxycobalamin may also be used, depending on the situation.
Taking a B12 supplement when you don’t have a deficiency doesn’t provide any health benefit. An integrative health practitioner can determine a B12 deficiency by blood test and then work with you to determine the best form of supplement for your health needs.
What are your favorite sources of mighty vitamin B12? Share in the comments below!
NIH.Gov “Vitamin B-12 Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.” Accessed 5 Oct 2017: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia Online. “Vitamin B12” Accessed 5 Oct 2017: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002403.htm
Patrick, S.J., “Vitamin B12 Deficiency Can be Sneaky, Harmful.” Harvard Health Newsletter. Accessed Oct 7 2017: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin-b12-deficiency-can-be-sneaky-harmful-201301105780
HealthLine.com “What is Vitamin B12?” Accessed 12 Oct 2017: https://www.healthline.com/health/b12-vitamins-for-energy
Leonard, Jayne. “Vitamin B12 shots: Uses, benefits, and side effects.” Posted 4 July 2017 at MedicalNewsToday.com; Accessed 12 Oct 2017: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318216.php
NIH.Gov “Vitamin B12” Accessed on 6 Nov 2017: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/