Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is necessary for the body to function properly.
While most people can obtain the necessary amount through diet, some factors, such as age, pregnancy, genetics, medical conditions or medication can make it difficult to incorporate or increase its demand. Find out here in which foods vitamin B12 is found, what its effects are and what happens if you do not consume enough (or too much).
Vitamin B complex
Vitamins are substances that the body needs to grow and develop normally. These can be differentiated into:
- Vitamin A.
- Vitamin B.
- Vitamin C.
- Vitamin D.
- Vitamin E.
- Vitamin K.
Vitamin B, in turn, is subdivided into other categories:
- B1 or thiamine: helps convert nutrients into energy.
- B2 or riboflavin: helps convert food into energy and also acts as an antioxidant.
- B3 or niacin: plays a key role in cell signaling, metabolism, and DNA production and repair.
- B5 or pantothenic acid– Helps the body obtain energy from food and participates in the production of hormones.
- B6 or pyridoxine: intervenes in metabolic function, production of red blood cells and creation of neurotransmitters.
- B7 or biotin: plays a key role in carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and regulates gene expression.
- B9 or folate: stimulates the formation of white and red blood cells, cell growth and the metabolism of amino acids.
Finally, we find vitamin B12 or cobalamin.
Benefits of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 plays a fundamental role in the formation, repair and maintenance of red blood cells. This allows to properly oxygenate all the organs of the body and improve their functioning.
- The most important vitamins to take care of your skin
Vitamin B12 also improves the overall endurance of the body, preventing fatigue or poor performance at work or during exercise. Other benefits associated with it are:
- Fight the symptoms of stress.
- Lower the risk of cancer.
- Maintain good cognitive function.
- Prevent anxiety or depression.
- Reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
Recommended intake of vitamin B12
Depending on the age or condition of the people, professionals recommend the following daily intake of vitamin B12:
- 0 – 6 months: 0.4 mcg.
- 7 – 12 months: 0.5 mcg.
- 13 years: 0.9 mcg.
- 48 years: 1.2 mcg.
- 9 – 13 years: 1.8 mcg.
- Over 14 years old: 2.4 mcg.
- Pregnant women: 2.6 mcg.
- Lactating women: 2.8 mcg.
If in the long run this consumption is not respected, a vitamin B12 deficiency can occur. This can cause irreversible damage to the body, such as:
- Anemia, and its respective symptoms: diarrhea, mouth or tongue pain, pale or yellowish skin, or menstrual problems.
- Difficulty maintaining balance.
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.
- Increased risk of infection.
- Loss of appetite
- Involuntary weight loss
- Memory problems.
- Nervous system problems.
Babies who lack vitamin B12 and are not treated may show unusual movements, such as facial tremors, poor reflexes, difficulty feeding, irritation, and growth problems.
What foods are rich in vitamin B12
To avoid risks of vitamin B12 deficiency, specialists recommend including the following foods in the diet:
- Lamb liver: each 100 g has 84 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Chicken’s liver: each 100 g has 56 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Lamb kidney: each 100 g has 52 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Cow liver: each 100 g has 47 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Beef kidney: each 100 g has 28 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Sardine: each 100 g has 28 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Pork liver: each 100 g has 25 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Mussels: each 100 g has 22 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Octopus: each 100 g has 20 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Oysters: each 100 g has 16 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Tuna: each 100 g has 12 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Salmon: each 100 g has 3 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Eggs: each 100 g has 1 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Cheese: each 100 g has 0.8 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Yogurt: each 100 g has 0.8 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Milk: each 100 g has 0.5 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Chicken: each 100 g has 0.3 mcg of vitamin B12.
Because vitamin B12 is found in animal products, vegetarians and vegans are at higher risk of deficiency.
For these cases, it is advisable to speak with the doctor so that he evaluates the situation, and, eventually, recommends the use of certain supplements.
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for the proper functioning of the body. However, experts warn that in excess (usually due to misuse of supplements) can lead to an overdose.
This condition has been linked to different health effects, such as:
- Allergic reactions or anaphylaxis.
Vitamin B12 supplements can also interact with medications you are already taking, such as antibiotics (Chloramphenicol), anti-reflux drugs (Omeprazole or Lansoprazole), or histamines (Tagamet or Zantac).
If you detect any problems after taking vitamin B12 supplements, do not stop taking any of your prescription medications, and consult a health professional as soon as possible.
Until there is significant scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should exercise extreme caution.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, first talk to your doctor about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: Comprehensive Natural Medicines Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.