Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in maintaining healthy performance of your nervous system and normal production of red blood cells.
Also known as cobalamin, this crucial water-soluble vitamin can be found naturally in meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. However, as a vegetarian, you can get your daily dose of vitamin B12 via plant-based milk and products infused with vitamin supplements.
In order to ensure that your nervous system remains strong and healthy, it is fundamental to get a sufficient amount of vitamin B12 in your daily diet. It will not only help strengthen your DNA and red blood cells, but also keep your immune system robust.
How Much Vitamin B12 Do You Need?
Your body’s requirement for vitamin B12 changes according to your age, medical condition, and dietary habits. Its absorption can also be impacted by the medications you are taking. Experts recommend the following daily amounts, measured in micrograms:
- Infants between 0-6 months: up to 0.4 mcg
- Infants between 7-12 months: up to 0.5 mcg
- Children between ages 1 and 3: 0.9 mcg
- Children between ages 4 and 8: 1.2 mcg
- Children between ages 9 and 13: 1.8 mcg
- Teens over the age of 14 and adults: up to 2.4 mcg
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women: up to 2.6 mcg
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Although our body only needs a small amount of vitamin B12 every day, its deficiency is common nowadays, especially among elderly people. If your diet does not give you enough of this vital nutrient or your body is unable to absorb it in sufficient amounts from your food, then you are exposed to the risk of B12 deficiency.
Some of the groups that are at a higher risk of being B12 deficient include:
- Elderly people
- People who have undergone a surgical process to remove a part of the bowel that absorbs B12
- People who are taking diabetes medication, such as metformin
- Vegan dieters
- People on antacid medication for heartburn
In most cases, a vitamin B12 deficiency will not reveal the damage for years. This makes it hard to spot. Sometimes, medical practitioners may even mistake B12 deficiency for folate deficiency because low levels of this vitamin can cause folate levels to plunge. However, fixing folate deficiency if you have B12 deficiency will only conceal the problem without treating the original issue.