Vitamin B-12 and Your Body (February 2020)
How often do you see a bottle of B-12 in the pharmacy or grocery store stating that it will give you energy? More brain power? At the checkout of the pharmacy, I recently saw one that had jellybeans in it as a joke. Even so, the message was still clear; Vitamin B-12 and our energy level or memory has become a recent hot topic. This article will discuss what happens in our body as we age with Vitamin B-12.
To begin, an interesting fact is that our body cannot naturally produce Vitamin B-12 on its own. Instead, Vitamin B-12 is obtained from various food sources including animal-based products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Cereal is also an alternative source of Vitamin B-12, as all cereals are fortified with it.
Vitamin B-12 is important to help the body form red blood cells, maintain the body’s nerve and blood cells, and to develop healthy DNA. Vitamin B-12 is also supportive in preventing a form of anemia called megaloblastic anemia. An individual will feel, tired, weak and cold with this type of anemia. Vitamin B-12 also manages the central nervous system. The recommended amount of Vitamin B-12 for adults is 2.4 mcg (micrograms) per day.
As we age, there is a decrease in the absorption of Vitamin B-12 because our stomach acid, which is necessary to break down proteins from foods, often decreases. This can be a result of taking medications such as antacids for reflux (GERD) or ulcers. Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) medications can also inhibit the absorption of stomach acid.
When people have a significant deficiency, they may experience mouth and tongue soreness, significant weight deficit and numbness or tingling in the toes, feet, and hands. It is important to share with your health care provider what food beliefs or regimen you follow as well as if you are vegetarian or vegan.
Research has shown that people with low Vitamin B-12 levels are more likely to developed dementia or Alzheimer’s and that Alzheimer’s is the most common in older adults.
Overall, it would be ideal to add some Vitamin B-12 foods into your dietary regimen. If those foods are not preferred, or do not feel safe, I would suggest a Vitamin B-12 supplement if one is over the age of 50 years old.
- Skerrett, P. J. (2019). Vitamin B12 deficiency can be sneaky, harmful. Retrieved from health.harvard.edu
- Weir, D. G., et al. (1999) Brain function in the elderly: role of vitamin B12 and folate. British Medical Bulletin, 55:3, 669-682.