Everything You Wanted to Know About Vitamin B12Vitamin B12 is a soluble vitamin, also known as Cobalamin. This vitamin is vital for creating DNA in the cells, and is part of the production of red blood cells. The only natural source of B12 are food products derived from animals – meats, chicken, poultry, eggs, dairy products and seafood. Cereals, soy products and snacks also add B12 to their ingredients. B12 undergoes a number of processes in order to be properly digested.
A regular Western diet contains about 5-7 mg a day. The daily recommendation is 6-9 mg. The body stores most of the B12 in the liver. In general, B12 contains 2-5 mg in storage so a deficiency only develops after a few years of a B12 deficient diet. In most cases of deficiency, the deficiency develops due to problems digesting the vitamin – due to alcoholism, chronic illnesses, antacids, Crohn's disease, Bariatric surgeries and more. Vitamin B12 deficiency increases with age – almost 30% of people over 70 suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 and VegetarianismVegetarians who eat dairy products, eggs and fish can get their daily serving of B12. Vegans, on the other hand, are a risk of developing a deficiency. Vegans should take B12 supplements. Teenagers or pregnant women who are vegetarians have an increased risk of B12 deficiency. A deficiency during pregnancy increases the chances of the fetus developing birth defects.
Treating a deficiency requires high dosages of B12, generally with the help of injections or liquid supplements.
Written by Michal Naeh, Hadassah Ein Kerem