Note: Each week, family physician
Regina Chinsio-Kwong, DO from
Mission Heritage Medical Group in Laguna Niguel will offer insight on a different vitamin—why you
need it, how to incorporate it into your diet and how it affects your
health. If you are considering taking any kind of supplement, consult
with a medical professional first.
WHAT IT DOES: B12, one of eight B vitamins, can put pep in your step. It helps with
metabolism, or how your body creates and uses energy. It also boosts the
production of red blood cells; that can guard against anemia, which can
cause weakness or fatigue. B12 can also ensure optimal body function by
maintaining the central nervous system and helping with DNA production,
which helps the body's cells work properly.
RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE: The amount ranges from 0.4 micrograms for newborns to 6 month olds, to
2.4 mcg for adults older than 18. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should
have 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg, respectively.
HOW TO INCLUDE IT IN YOUR DIET: Generally, food is the best way to get enough B12, and the best food sources
are lean meats or organ meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts. Foods
such as cereal and bread that are B12 fortified are also good options.
B12 can also be found in multivitamins or on its own in supplements that
can be swallowed in pill form or dissolved under the tongue. People who
are vitamin B12 deficient—usually because they can't absorb
the vitamin in their stomachs—can take a supplement, or prescription
shots or nasal gel.
HEALTH IMPACT: A B12 deficiency can cause several problems, including anemia, weakness
and fatigue, constipation, confusion and poor memory, balance problems
and nerve damage. Babies can suffer developmental delays. Those at risk
of vitamin B12 deficiency include people with can't properly absorb
it—such as older people or those who have had gastrointestinal surgery
or disorders, such as celiac disease—as well as vegans and vegetarians,
because B12 is naturally found in food products sourced from animals.
Some have thought B12 can help with heart disease, dementia and athletic
performance, but medical studies have not conclusively shown that. It
can also interfere with certain medications, such as proton pump inhibitors,
which are used for reflux or heartburn, and the diabetes drug metformin.
Patients on medication should always be monitored by their doctor when
RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENT BRANDS: Metagenics, Integrated Therapeutics.
Read more about vitamins:
Value of Vitamin Series: D3
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.