Why supplement Vitamin B12?

The primary reason for taking a vitamin B12 supplement is a vitamin B12 deficiency.  Doctors may see and address vitamin B12 deficiency during routine blood work with the intent of avoiding irreversible neurological damage from prolonged vitamin B12 deficiency.  B12 is involved in Neurological function, red blood cell formation, and DNA synthesis.  Vitamin B12 is fortified into many foods such as nutritional yeasts and breakfast cereals but is found naturally occurring in animal proteins like clams, liver and beef, trout, slamon, tuna, chicken, milk, yogurt, cheese, and eggs.

Common Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Include:

  • Fatigue & weakness
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Neurological changes like numbness and tingling in the hands and feet

Common at Risk Groups of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Include:

  • Older adults
  • Individuals with GI disorders
  • Individuals who have had GI surgery
  • Vegetarians & Vegans
  • Pregnant and lactating women who follow vegetarian diets

Vitamin Deficiency B12 May Play a Role in:

  • Cardiovascular disease related to elevated homocysteine in presence of B12 deficiency
  • Dementia and cognitive function
    • Though research has not shown that vitamin B12 has an independent effect on cognition
  • Energy and Endurance
    • B12 plays an important role in energy metabolisms and is marketed as an energy enhancer and athletic boosting supplement.
      • Research has yet to show vitamin B12 has such an effect in the absence of a nutritional deficiency.

Reference:

Office of Ietary Supplements Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb12-healthprofessional/

Disclaimer

This blog article was written based on the Office of Dietary Supplements Vitamin B12 fact sheet. It provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. 

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