We try so hard to make good health choices. It’s hard to believe that some of those choices can lead to unanticipated negative consequences. A good example is exercising causes muscle pain. Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur when the body needs more vitamin B12 than it receives from your diet or a condition that occurs when the body is unable to use the B12 vitamin. B12 is a very important vitamin which comes from bacteria that lives in an animals’ stomach. Most B12 deficiencies are the result of a dietary imbalance, which is caused by not eating foods supplemented with vitamin B12, or staying away from meat. Not eating a healthy diet puts you in danger of a B12 deficiency. This deficiency is a health epidemic with rates as high as 20% among certain age groups.
What does Vitamin B12 do?
B12 performs a number of functions. It helps support a healthy brain, your DNA and nervous system. It maintains and manufactures red blood cells. So a long-term deficiency can cause a host of health issues, like anemia, high levels of homocysteine, which increases the risk for heart disease. Mild B12 deficiency can also impair brain function. It can cause permanent nerve damage. If you’re only moderately deficient in B12, symptoms may be more subtle, allowing the deficiency to steadily chip away at your health.
Causes of B12 Deficiency
Most B12 deficiencies are the result of a bad diet. Because B12 is derived from animals, this deficiency is common among vegetarians. These are not the only factors that cause low B12, there are other risks involved, which include:
- atrophic gastritis;
- removal of a portion of the small intestine;
- Crohn’s or celiac disease;
- autoimmune conditions;
- prolonged use of acid-reducing medications; and
- Fertility problems such as miscarriages or difficulty getting pregnant.
Signs of a B12 deficiency
The only way to know if you have a B12 deficiency is to consult a health professional.
Below are some symptoms to be aware of and monitor:
- rapid breathing or heart rate;
- dizziness or weakness;
- pale skin;
- chronic gastrointestinal problems;
- a sore tongue;
- easily bruising;
- gums that frequently bleed, and
- unexplained weight loss.
Please note that other conditions can produce these symptoms as well, as noted above please consult a health professional for a diagnoses of B12 deficiency. Early treatment helps prevent permanent damage. It is very important that you lead a healthy life, it’s time to step back and take a look at what you can change in your life.
Most people need 2.6mcg of B12 each day. Pregnant women require a slightly higher dose per day. B12 is potent so try and stay clear of substances that greatly exceed the recommendation. If you consume meat, one may try to get B12 from lean organic meats, such as chicken, lean beef, and fresh fish. Eating these types of meats is an alternative and help you stay healthy without causing weight gain. If you’re a vegetarian or want to avoid meat animal products, take a B12 supplement or look for foods fortified with this vitamin. Many protein shakes and health foods contain B12. The following chart is the amount we should digest daily.
|0-6 months||0.4 micrograms/day
Adequate Intake (AI)
|7-12 months||0.5 mcg/day
Adequate Intake (AI)
|1-3 years||0.9 mcg/day|
|4-8 years||1.2 mcg/day|
|9-13 years||1.8 mcg/day|
|14 years and up||2.4 mcg/day|
|Pregnant women||2.6 mcg/day|
|Breastfeeding women||2.8 mcg/day|
Vitamin B12 is found in animal foods. Clams and beef liver have extremely high amounts of this vitamin. The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements offers this list of foods that are high in B12.
|Food||Serving size||Vitamin B12content
|% Daily Value|
|Clams, cooked||3 ounces||84||1,402|
|Beef liver, cooked||3 ounces||70.7||1,178|
|100% fortified cereal||3 ounces||6||100|
|Rainbow trout, cooked||3 ounces||5.4||90|
|Light tuna, canned in water||3 ounces||2.5||42|
|Cheeseburger and bun||1 sandwich||2.1||35|
|Haddock, cooked||3 ounces||1.8||30|
|25% fortified cereal||1 serving||1.5||25|
|Top sirloin beef||3 ounces||1.4||23|
|Low-fat milk||1 cup||1.2||18|
|Low-fat fruit yogurt||8 ounces||1.1||18|
|Swiss cheese||1 ounce||0.9||15|
|Beef taco||1 taco||0.9||15|
|Cured ham, roasted||3 ounces||0.6||10|
|Hard boiled egg||1 large||0.6||10|
|Chicken breast, roasted||3 ounces||0.3||5|
It is also available in whey power, yeast extract spreads, some seaweed, blue green algea and Marine Plankton. Vitamin B12 is available in pills, liquid or a shot. These are known as cyanocobalamin, hydrocobalamin, and methylcobalamin. The first is the most widely available and least expensive.
It is very important that you lead a healthy life, it’s time to step back and take a look at what you can change in your life. Hi let me introduce myself, I’m Mavis and I’m here to help you incorporate healthy lifestyle habits and to make a difference in your life! So let’s get started! For more information visit my website for health tips in “The Lounge” at: http://NspireHealthyLiving.com.
Mavis Kelley, CHHC, AADP is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health and Wellness Life Coach specializing in nutrition, health, well-being, fitness and lifestyle design. For more information or to schedule a holistic health assessment, please contact her today at: Mavis@nspirehealthyliving.net or visit her website at: http://NspireHealthyLiving.com.