What is Vitamin B12 and why is it important?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that’s important for red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis, as well as in processes like fat and protein metabolism. Basically, B12 is necessary for the health of your mind and body. If you don’t get enough, you can start to feel symptoms like fatigue, weakness, and poor memory. If a B12 deficiency gets bad enough, it can lead to anemia, depression, or dementia - all things you want to avoid. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is important and an essential part of that is making sure you’re getting all of the micronutrients you need, such as vitamins like B12.
Where can I get B12?
The recommended daily intake of B12 for adults is 2.4mcg according to the Food and Nutrition Board, unless you’re pregnant or lactating. To get enough of this essential vitamin, you should make sure to include the following foods in your everyday diet.
Animal products like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy are all good sources of B12.
B12 is also available in fortified foods like breads, cereals, pasta, or plant milks. Nutritional yeast is also a popular plant-based way to get in your B12. These are all great sources of micronutrients for vegetarians and vegans.
Alternatively, you can take B12 supplements or a multivitamin that includes B12.
As we age, our bodies’ ability to absorb B12 decreases because the amount of hydrochloric acid our stomachs produce for digestion decreases. Sometimes this means we can’t fully absorb the B12 that’s naturally in the foods we eat, which is when supplements and fortified foods become very important as sources of essential vitamins and minerals. The B12 in fortified products and dietary supplements is still able to be absorbed properly even as we age, so adults older than 50 are recommended to get as much of their B12 as possible from vitamin supplements and fortified foods like breads, cereals, and pastas.
Don’t just count your macros, make sure you’re getting all the right vitamins and minerals too! B12 is an essential vitamin that sometimes people forget about, but can be easy to get enough of as long as you know what to include in your diet. This nutrient is important at all stages of life, but especially as you age, so make sure to get some variety in your diet and take your multivitamin!