How Much Vitamin B12 Should I Take?

After learning of the benefits of Vitamin B12, people often ask “How much vitamin B12 Should I take?”  To answer this question it is beneficial to first review the essential properties of the vitamin. Vitamin B12 belongs to a category known as “stress vitamins,” and is also essential to the processes of DNA synthesis, red blood corpuscles formulation, proper digestion and maintaining the intrinsic factor levels of your intestine.  It helps keep your nervous system, hair, liver, eyes, and skin healthy and strong. It is a water soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver and gets released by stomach acids for use in the body.

A healthy diet which includes dairy and other animal products will usually provide an adequate supply of Vitamin B12, also known as Cobalamin.  However, for vegans, this may pose a difficulty.  Nevertheless, vegetarians can opt for injections or oral pills to supplement their diet and get the required amount of Vitamin B12.

The recommended daily dosage for Vitamin B12 is 3 to 10 mcg for a normal person.  Elderly people may need supplements due to aging factors.   These can be obtained in the form of injections, nasal sprays, sublingual (under the tongue) supplements and also fortified cereal supplements.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), the following (for reference purposes only) is a dosage guide based on age:

•           Infants below 1 to 3 years – .9 micrograms

•           children below 4 years – 0.5 to 1 mcg per day

•           Above 4 years to 8 years – 1.2mcg per day

•           9years to 13 years – 1.8 mcg per day

•           Teenagers – 2.4 mcg per day

•           Adults – 2.4 mcg per day

•           Pregnant and nursing women – 2.6 to 2.8 mcg per day

•           For non-vegetarians, eating tuna fish, cottage cheese, eggs and liver can be a good source of vitamin B12.  Take one chicken breast, one hardboiled egg and 1 cup of plain and low fat yoghurt to complete your daily dietary requirements of Vitamin B12.

•           For vegetarians, eating fortified breakfast cereals and opting for dietary supplements through injections and oral pills or multivitamin supplements can be very helpful

Other suggestions for non-vegetarians include 3 oz. of cooked salmon (4.9mcg), 1 cup of plain yogurt (1.4 mcg), 3 oz. of broiled top sirloin beef (2.4 mcg), 3 oz. of white tuna (1.0 mcg), 1 cup of milk (.9mcg),  one large egg (.6 mcg), 3 oz. of ham (.6 mcg), half a roast chicken breast (.3 mcg).

A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to pernicious anemia with symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness, constipation, weight loss etc.  In some other cases, it can also induce a memory loss or numbness in the feet, tingling feeling in the hands and feet, and difficulty maintaining body balance.  Taking a blood test can help determine whether you have a B12 deficiency.


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