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Nutrient of the Week #5

Nutrient of the Week #5 ~ Vitamin B12 ~


There are 8️⃣ B vitamin that we need, but for this week lets focus on just one, B12 (also called Cobalamin)!


Vitamin B12 aids in keeping the body’s nerves and blood cells working properly, helps make DNA and is key to preventing a certain type of anemia [Megaloblastic Anemia], which can result in fatigue and weakness. Our bodies are extremely efficient in recycling B12 in our bodies and storing it in our livers (exception: those with pernicious anemia) so a deficiency can take years to occur if you decide to stop eating meat!


Where to find Vitamin B12!


-It is found naturally in animal sources such as chicken, beef, eggs, seafood, dairy and liver! We only need a small amount of B12, so if you eat meat and/or dairy you are likely getting your daily dose! The recommended amounts for teens and adults is 2.4 mcg (micrograms) and increases slightly for pregnancy (2.6mcg) and lactation (2.8mcg).How we absorb B12:


-Those following a vegan diet may be lacking in this essential nutrient, so supplementation may be needed {stay tuned for when I talk about supplement options!}


-It can also be found in fortified foods such as cereals, flour, pasta and nutritional yeast (also called “Nooch”). This is especially helpful for those who do not eat meat!



How we absorb B12:

Two steps are required for the body to absorb vitamin B12 from food…

1. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein to which vitamin B12 is attached in food.

2. Vitamin B12 combines with a protein made by the stomach called intrinsic factor and is absorbed by the body.


-If you have pernicious anemia (a condition in which you cannot make intrinsic factor), digestive disorders (such as celiac or Crohn’s), or have had gastrointestinal surgery, then your B12 absorption may be reduced. Older adults naturally have reduced hydrochloric acid in their stomachs, which is needed to absorb B12 from food sources, so a supplement may also be needed in this case.


There are 2 types of B12 Deficiency:

Primary - occurs due to a lack of B12 in the diet

Secondary - reduced absorption due to reasons such as low stomach acid, pernicious anemia, digestive disorders (such as celiac or Crohn’s), or gastrointestinal surgery.


Vitamin B12 deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and Megaloblastic anemia. Nerve problems, often felt in the form of “pins and needs” in your hands and feet, are another symptoms of deficiency. Without enough B12, folate cannot function properly in the body.










Do you need to supplement with Vitamin B12?


If you are someone who consumes meat and/or animal products, Vitamin B12 is likely not a problem for you!


If you follow a vegan diet (or fall under one of the categories in Post 3), this may be a nutrient you are lacking in! If you are interested in increasing you intake through diet, check your cereals and grains to see if it is fortified! Nooch/Nutritional Yeast is a common product that can be added to a variety of foods and can even be used as a seasoning, but be sure it is actually fortified with B12 (often in the form of cyanocobalamin).



Looking for an extra boost via supplements? You can find B12 supplements at any health food store, drug store or grocery store! Vitamin B12 is found in most multivitamins, so if you already are taking one of these, you are likely getting your daily dose of B12!

In other cases it can be administered as an injection, but this is a discussion for your family doctor.

 

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