Why do we need it?
Vitamin B12 is important in the formation of red blood cells (it prevents anemia), DNA (genetic material) and protein synthesis, as well neurological (brain) function.
What foods have vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is found in animal products like meat, chicken, fish/seafood, eggs, milk and dairy products and organ meats as well as fortified products like breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast.
How much vitamin B12 do we need?
For males and females 14 years or older the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) per day (pregnant and lactating women need more).
Who is at risk for deficiency?
Vegetarians and vegans who do not consume animal products and have no other sources of vitamin B12 in their diet. Older adults with decreased gastric acids (necessary to absorb vitamin B12) or adults with diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, and those who’ve had gastric surgery. Mothers who are vegan or vegetarian who are exclusively breast feeding should speak to their physician about vitamin B12 supplements to make sure their infant gets the necessary amount of vitamin B12.
Signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency:
Tingling or numbness in hands and feet (may signify nerve damage), anemia, fatigue, weakness, impaired neurological functions like confusion, dementia, depression and poor memory. Soreness of the mouth and tongue.
Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN
Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian