Vitamin B12: Why you should take it

Many of us consume vitamin B12 on a daily basis, but we don’t fully comprehend it as most nutrients do. Regardless of whether getting enough B12 is top of mind for you, your body still needs it.

Despite the fact that the majority of people obtain enough each day through eating fish, meat, and dairy products, vegans and vegetarians may be concerned about receiving enough vitamin B12. They may not know how to pick a supplement that is secure.

To help you better understand this important nutrient, we dove into the research on what vitamin B12 is, why we need it, and how you can make sure you are meeting your needs. 

What Is Vitamin B12? 

Foods we eat naturally contain water-soluble vitamin B12 in small amounts. It belongs to the class of substances known as “cobalamin” since it contains the mineral cobalt. The formation of red blood cells, the development of our central nervous system, and DNA synthesis are just a few of the uses for vitamin B12.

You’re unlikely to ingest too much vitamin B12 because it is water soluble, and our bodies drain out any excess that we can’t use.

People’s belief that vitamin B12 gives you energy is the largest misperception about it. Beware of spoilers: only calories—which nutrients like vitamin B12 contain in extremely small amounts—can give you energy. 

Therefore choose naturally energetic foods instead of succumbing to branding on drinks, snacks, or supplements, such as whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, and more.

Vitamin B12 deficiency 

Although it’s highly unlikely, some people might not be getting enough vitamin B12, which is extremely feasible. Many factors can contribute to a vitamin B12 deficit as well.

Those who have a vegan or vegetarian diet may be at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency because it is largely found in animal products. There are some vegan food sources of vitamin B12, the majority of which have been supplemented.

The inability to properly absorb vitamin B12 may also contribute to vitamin B12 deficiency. Pernicious anemia is the medical term for this kind of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Although vitamin B12 is absorbed in the large intestine, malabsorption may be brought on by long-term pharmaceutical usage, advancing age, or genetic predispositions.

Fatigue, palpitations, pale skin, dementia, weight loss, and infertility are signs of vitamin B12 insufficiency.

Foods High in Vitamin B12

As vitamin B12 is often present in high-protein animal products, it is attached to the protein in the diet.

For adults above the age of 19, the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) of vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms for both men and women. The guideline increases to 2.6 micrograms for pregnant or nursing women respectively.

These are foods high in vitamin B12: 

  • Clams: 17mcg per 3oz (708% RDA)
  • Tuna: 9.3mcg per 3oz (385% RDA)
  • Nutritional yeast: 8.3mcg per ¼ cup (346% RDA)
  • Salmon: 2.6mcg per 3oz (108% RDA)
  • Ground Beef: 2.4mcg per 3 ounces (100% RDA)
  • Milk: 1.3mcg per cup (54% RDA)
  • Yogurt: 1mcg per 6oz (43% RDA)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals: 0.6mcg per serving (25% RDA)
  • Cheese: 0.5mcg per ounce (19% RDA)

Vitamin B12 for Vegans

While animal products make up the majority of vitamin B12 sources, a handful is suitable for vegans. 8.3 micrograms of vitamin B12 are packed into a quarter cup of nutritional yeast, which is quite a bit. A 1/4 cup meal also contains 16 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber for substantial sturdiness.

For taste and nutrients, nutritional yeast can be sprinkled on top of salads, popcorn, grain bowls, and other foods.

Another way vegans can increase their vitamin B12 is fortified breakfast cereals. To determine if your cereal is fortified and how much vitamin B12 it contains per serving, read the nutrition label.

Supplementing with vitamin B12 is another well-liked choice for vegans. To determine whether a supplement is appropriate for you, consult your doctor.

Health Benefits of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining optimal health and is required by our systems for a number of reasons. Here are a few advantages of getting enough vitamin B12 for your health.

Reduced Cancer Risk

The chance of developing some malignancies can be decreased by getting enough vitamin B12. According to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, those who don’t get enough vitamin B12 are more likely to get stomach cancer, especially if they smoke.

According to another study published in Public Health Nutrition, there is a dose-response association between vitamin B12 and colorectal cancer. 

This indicates that people’s risk of colorectal cancer was generally reduced the more vitamin B12 they consumed. Research on pancreatic cancer has produced similar results.

Improved Cognitive Function 

Correct cell development in our central nervous system is one of vitamin B12’s key roles.

A lack of vitamin B12 might have negative effects on our cognitive functioning. According to studies, low vitamin B12 levels have been linked to poor brain and central nervous system function.

On the other hand, getting enough vitamin B12 can lower your risk of cognitive decline and keep your cells healthy.

Healthy Energy Metabolism

Despite the fact that vitamin B12 doesn’t contain calories and therefore doesn’t directly provide us with energy, it can nevertheless be crucial for energy metabolism. 

Each of the eight essential B vitamins—B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12—plays a role in the chemical processes that enable humans to digest food and transform it into cellular energy.

They don’t provide you with immediate energy like foods high in calories (carbs, proteins, fats, and alcohol), nor are they stimulants like coffee. They are nevertheless essential for turning food into energy for our cells.

Bottom Line 

Even if you’ve never given it much thought, vitamin B12 is essential for a number of body processes. We require vitamin B12 every day for a variety of purposes, including maintaining brain function and assisting with energy metabolism. 

It normally originates from animal sources, but with a little knowledge, vegans and vegetarians can still eat to meet their needs. Check out the top five vitamins and minerals to promote a healthy immune system for additional information on vital nutrients.