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Do you get enough Vitamin B12?

Posted by Manuela Boyle on 19 January 2021
Do you get enough Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 does a lot of things for your body. It helps make your DNA and your red blood cells, for example.

Since your body does not make vitamin B12, you must get it from animal-based foods or from supplements. You should do one of those on a regular basis because your body does not store vitamin B12 for a long time.

 

How much is enough?

The answer depends on things including your age, your eating habits, medical conditions and what medications you take. The average recommended amounts, measured in micrograms (mcg), vary by age:

  • Infants up to age 6 months: 0.4 mcg
  • Babies age 7-12 months: 0.5 mcg
  • Children age 1-3 years: 0.9 mcg
  • Kids age 4-8 years: 1.2 mcg
  • Children age 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
  • Teens age 14-18: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg per day if breastfeeding)
  • Adults: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg per day if breastfeeding)

 

Food Sources of Vitamin B12

You can get vitamin B12 in animal foods, which have it naturally, or from items that have been fortified with it. Animal sources include dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry. If you're looking for a food fortified with B12, check the product's Nutrition Facts label.

 

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Most people in the U.S. get enough of this nutrient. If you're not sure, you can ask your doctor if you should get a blood test to check your vitamin B12 level. With age, it can become harder to absorb this vitamin. It can also happen if you have had weight loss surgery or another operation that removed part of your stomach, or if you drink heavily.

You may also be more likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency if you have:

  • Atrophic gastritis, in which your stomach lining has thinned
  • Pernicious anaemia, which makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamin B12
  • Conditions that affect your small intestine, such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite
  • Immune system disorders, such as Graves' disease or lupus
  • Certain medications that interfere with the absorption of B12. This includes some heartburn medicines including proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec OTC), pantoprazole (Protonix), and rabeprazole (Aciphex), H2 Blockers such as cimetidine (Tagamet) and famotidine (Pepcid AC); and certain diabetes medicines such as metformin (Glucophage).

You can also have a vitamin B12 deficiency if you follow a vegan diet (meaning you don't eat any animal products, including meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) or you are a vegetarian who doesn't eat enough eggs or dairy products to meet your vitamin B12 needs. In both of those cases, you can add fortified f

Author: Manuela Boyle
Tags: News Nutritional Supplements Resources Evidence Based Research

Associations

  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australasian Integrative Medicine Association
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia
  • British Naturopathic Association

Disclaimer: Manuela Boyle is not a registered medical practitioner or specialist medical oncologist. Manuela Boyle is a general health service provider who is not legally required to be registered under National Health Practitioner regulation law. She practises under the national Code of Conduct that sets standards to general health service providers who are not regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Manuela Boyle is an accredited member of the following professional organisations:
NHAA (Naturopaths & Herbalists Association of Australia), SIO (Society of Integrative Oncology) USA, AIMA (Australasian Integrative Medical Association), IFM (Institute of Functional Medicine) USA