The Benefits of Vitamin B12

Among the B-complex antioxidants, vitamin b-12 is a water-soluble cyanocobalamin that is naturally found in beef and specific types of fish and seafood. It is also available as a dietary supplement and a prescription medication. Considering that the nutrient carries the mineral cobalt, it is sometimes referred to as cobalamin.

As with many other medical breakthroughs, Vitamin B12 was actually discovered by chance.  In the early 1900’s, it was not uncommon for individuals to contract pernicious anemia, a fatal anemic disease from an inability to absorb the b12 vitamin. During the research for a solution for the sickness, it was discovered that consuming large quantities of liver speedily cured the problem.  Luckily for us, the b12 vitamin was eventually isolated from the liver juices which led to the ability to provide the nutrient in supplement form as an alternative to having to ingest large amounts of liver fluid. Today, vitamin B12 is sold in many varieties like sprays, tablets and liquids.

As mentioned previously, Vitamin B12 was discovered in the liver.  So, it is not shocking that meat and liver have the highest levels of this vitamin.  Stunningly, clams have large amounts of the vitamin.  As a matter of fact, according to the United States Office of Dietary Supplements, clams have 34.2 micrograms per 3 ounce serving.  Other meat products like ham and poultry plus some breakfast cereals which are fortified, also contain small trace amounts of the nutrient.  However, at six micrograms or less per serving, it is not an adequate amount to be beneficial. Therefore, if you are not eating meat and clams on a regular basis, then there’s a chance you’re at risk for a vitamin b12 deficiency.

You may have a vitamin b12 deficiency if you are exhibiting signs of weakness, tiredness, loss of appetite and loss of weight.  In addition, you may experience numbing and tingling in the extremities.  If your vitamin deficiency is severe your physician will probably give you a vitamin b12 injection which is the quickest way to get the vitamin into your body.  Other less severe remedies include taking the vitamin in liquid and other forms. Prolonged deficiency of the vitamin can contribute to irreversible neurological disorder.

During a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, it was discovered that as high as 15% of the U.S. population has a Vitamin B12 deficiency, and many of them don’t even know they have it. The groups of individuals with the highest risk of not getting enough of vitamin b12 include vegetarians, elderly, pregnant women that are lactating and those with gastric disorders. What is is the recommended amount? The United States Food and Drug Administration’s Daily Value for vitamin b12 is 6 micrograms. However, studies completed by the Institute of Medicine found no adverse affects from extremely high doses of the vitamin. Therefore, most people can safely reap the benefits of b12 supplements. It should be noted, Vitamin B12 can interfere with certain medicines. Therefore, those taking medications should consult with their health care provider.

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