Vitamin B12: Deficiency and Foods With Vitamin B
What is Vitamin B12: Benefits and Interesting Facts about this Vital Nutrient
Vitamin B12 is needed for metabolism, development of red blood cells and the maintenance of the central nervous system. This vitamin and other B Vitamins are known as cobalamin; more specifically, Vitamin B12 is known as cyanocobalamin.
Benefits and Interesting Facts:
- It helps the body produce DNA.
- Aids in regulating metabolism.
- It is required for proper brain function.
- Enhances mood.
- Aids in sleep.
- It is vital for fetal development.
- Slows the aging process.
- It may protect against some forms of cancer.
- It is water-soluble.
- It is stored in the liver for approximately 12 months.
- When not stored, or used, it is expelled in the urine.
- Beef liver and clams are the best sources of this vitamin.
- Studies have found people over 50 are unable to absorb Vitamin B12.
- Patients with Crohn's disease, Celiac Disease, or who have had gastrointestinal surgery tend to lose the ability to absorb B12.
- It can prevent anemia, specifically megaloblastic anemia.
- A blood test can measure Vitamin B12 levels in the blood.
Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin B12
Birth - 6 months
7 - 12 months
1 - 3 years old
4 - 8 years old
9 - 13 years old
14 - 18 years old
Pregnant Teens and Women
Breastfeeding Teens and Women
Allergic Reactions and Side Effects of Excessive Vitamin B12
Side effects with Vitamin B12 are uncommon and it is generally considered safe when taking the recommended daily allowance. Regardless, seek medical attention if you suspect you are having an allergic reaction to it. Side effects include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of face and oral cavity (lips, tongue or throat)
- A feeling of warmth, or heat in arms or legs (may include redness).
- Joint paint
- Itchiness or rash
Causes of Deficiency
The following ailments and conditions are known to potentially cause Vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Celiac Disease
- Crohn's Disease
- Grave's Disease
Check with your physician about taking supplements or if vitamin injections are an option.
Note, Gastric By-Pass patients may have a limited ability to absorb this vitamin. Also, vegetarians and vegans do not consume animal products, the richest source of Vitamin B12.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Video
Purpose of a Vitamin B12 Test
A Vitamin B12 test may be used to determine, analyze, and diagnose cases of:
- Gastrointestinal Issues
- Tingling and Numbness in extremities
Unless advised differently by their physician, one should fast 10 - 12 hours before blood work of this type. Also, you may want to remind your physician if you are on Coumadin or an aspirin regimen.
Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal Pain
- Appetite Loss
- Birth Defects
- Bleeding Gums
- Hair Loss
- Muscle Cramps
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Stunted Growth and Development in Children
- Tender or Sore Tongue
- Tingling and Numbness in Extremities
- Weakened Immunity
Severe and untreated cases can cause nerve damage and affect cells. Severe symprtoms can provoke depression, mood swings, memory loss, and disorientation.
B Complex Vitamins and Protein for Vegans and Vegetarians
Protein food sources for vegetarians can come from legumes, nuts, seeds and other foods. The article provides a variety of protein food sources and includes grams of protein per serving.
* Note: Some protein rich plant foods are rich in B Complex Vitamins.
Food Sources of Vitamin B12
Foods rich in Vitamin B:
- Dairy and Eggs: Swiss cheese has the highest level of Vitamin B12
- Fortified Cereals
- Seafood: Caviar, Clams, Cod, Halibut, Lobster, Oysters, Salmon, Sardines, Scallops, Shrimp
- Red Meat: Liver (variety), Beef, Lamb, Venison
Vegans and Vegetarians should consider including fortified cereals and supplements to their diet in order to avoid the possibility of being deficient in Vitamin B12.
"Unlike some other B vitamins, B12 is not found in any plant food other than fortified cereals." - WebMD
B12 Absorption: Intrinsic Factor
Intrinsic factor (IF) also known as gastric intrinsic factor (GIF) is aglycoprotein produced by the parietal cells of the stomach. It is necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12 later on in the small intestine.
It is important to note, a diet deficient in animal products, primarily beef, poultry and seafood, greatly increase the risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Vegans are at the highest risk as this particular diet also restricts eggs and dairy, another source of Vitamin B12. Please consider watching the FullyRaw video below if you are vegetarian or vegan. This video will provide you with an informative perspective.
Your Heart and Vitamin B12 Deficiency: This deficiency is known to increase blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which enables artery blockage. The blockage greatly increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Vitamin Injections and Shots
There are some reports claiming Vitamin B12 shots can aid in weight loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, there isn't an evidence weight loss occurs through these injections. The idea behind the weight loss claim is due to the energy effects of Vitamin shots. Some believe this increase in energy improves metabolism.
Who can benefit from vitamin injections?
Patients with gastrointestinal issues such as, Crohn's Disease or Celiac Disease are unable to absorb Vitamin B12 through their digestive system. Injections can be an effective alternative.
Vitamins for Memory and Concentration
Study: A trial of 152 adults between the ages of 70 to 80, compared the mental benefits of aerobic exercise to Vitamin B supplements. Although both groups showed improvement, the exercise group showed greater improvement in memory and concentration than the supplement group.
Dr. Oz: The well loved celebrity physician was recently asked if there were any supplements that help to improve your memory. He responded, "the number one vitamin you should be taking are omega-3 fish oils."
Facts about Foods, Supplements and Memory
Study: Older adults who took vitamin B12 for two years showed significant improvement in both short and long-term memory tests. Australian National University
Other memory boosting foods and supplements:
- Folic Acid may slow memory loss.
- Serotonin can improve memory and learning.
- Fish Oil improves cognitive function and mood.
- Evidence supports flax improves clarity and awareness.
- The theanine in matcha (powdered green tea) is known to stimulate alpha brain waves, which are associated with a relaxed, but alert mental state. Relaxes the mind while allowing focus on mental tasks.
- Blueberries contain flavonoids. Flavonoids improve memory and cognitive functions such as; the ability to reason, make decisions, general comprehension and retention.
What are the B Vitamins: Includes Vitamin B Complex Food Sources
B vitamins are commonly found in basic animal and plant food sources. B vitamins are essential for the growth and development of many functions in the body, especially the conversion of foods to energy.
Vitamin B Complex consists of: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12
- B1: Thiamin, produces energy and supports healthy muscle, nerve and heart function. Common sources: whole grains, pork, seafood, liver and legumes (especially kidney beans).
- B2: Riboflavin, produces energy and also supports muscle, nerve and heart function. Common sources: dairy, enriched grains, green leafy vegetables.
- B3: Niacin, produces energy within the cells and helps maintain a healthy digestive and nervous system. Niacin also aids in supporting skin health. Common sources: chicken, fish, red meat, liver, legumes, nuts and whole grains.
- B5: Pantothenic Acid, aids in general growth and development of the body. Common sources: easily found in most plant and food sources.
- B6: Pyridoxine, aids in the metabolization of protein, supports healthy red blood cells, aids immunity and supports the nervous system. Common sources: chicken, fish, pork, liver, legumes, wheat germ and bananas.
- B7: Biotin, aids in producing hormones and metabolizes carbohydrates and proteins. Used by many for skin, hair and nail care. Common sources: bananas, egg yolk, grapefruit, mushrooms, nuts (peanuts), watermelon and liver.
- B9: Folic Acid (Folate), supports DNA production. Common sources: citrus, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, legumes, peas, and whole grains.
- B12: Cobalamin, Supports a variety of functions, such as the nervous system, metabolization of vital nutrients and the production of red blood cells. Common sources: dairy, eggs, chicken, red meat, and shellfish.
American Cancer Society: Vitamin B Complex
WH Foods: Vitamin B12
National Institute of Health
NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and provide amazing health benefits. Blueberries promote a healthy retina, strong cardiac muscles and maintain brain function.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this hub should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. Please consult a physician for medical and dietary advice and treatment. Vitamin B12 Deficiency should not be assumed or treated without the supervision of a medical professional.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 Marisa Hammond Olivares