LET’S DISCUSS: VITAMIN B12

WHAT IS VITAMIN B12?

Vitamin B12 also called Cobalamin, is of the B group vitamins and is therefore a water soluble vitamin. A water soluble vitamin dissolves in water is able to be transported via the bloodstream. Excess amounts of Vitamin B12 aren’t stored and are excreted through the urine. This vitamin cannot be manufactured by our own bodies and therefore must be obtained through diet. B12 is produced by bacteria during bacterial fermentation synthesis.

Vitamin B12 has numerous roles to play within our bodies and is especially important for normal brain function, the nervous system, DNA synthesis and in the formation of red blood cells. It is needed for the metabolic process of every cell in the body and has roles in the synthesis of fatty acids. B12 aids in folic acid absorption and facilitates the release of energy within our cells.
HOW DO WE GET VITAMIN B12?

B12 is only found in animal products unless the product is fortified with the vitamin. This is because B12 can only be produced by bacteria. When animals consume their food, they generally consume a lot of bacteria from the soil or unwashed food products. Due to the animals consumption of bacteria, B12 accumulates within the animals tissues and is therefore provided to our diets by consuming the tissues of an animal or the products made from their excretions. Although plant foods can be sourced from the soil and contain numerous levels of bacteria; these plant foods are washed to make them safe for consumption but therefore also removing the bacteria that are producing this vitamin.

WHAT ARE VEGAN B12 SOURCES?
You can get Vitamin B12 by consuming foods fortified with the vitamin such as Nutritional Yeast however it is suggested that to ensure you are receiving adequate amounts of B12, that you should take a supplement if eating a vegan/vegetarian diet. However, B12 is a common deficiency for all kinds of diets, not just those that have reduced or no meat consumption.

WHAT DOES A VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY LOOK LIKE?

 

Symptoms of a B12 deficiency include:

–          Depression

–          Memory problems

–          Fatigue

–          Constipation

–          Loss of appetite

–          Weight loss

–          Neurological complications (more severe symptom)

Results of a B12 deficiency can be both severe and permanent. The following issues may occur and be irreversible:

–          Anaemia

–          Neurological damage: numbness in hands and feet

–          Balance problems

–          Psychosis

–          Dementia

Infants that have a B12 deficiency may also suffer from:

–          Face tremors

–          Reflex problems

–          Feeding difficulties

–          Irritation

–          Growth defects

HOW MUCH B12 DO I NEED?

INFANTS:

0-6 months – 0.4 µg/day
7-12 months – 0.5 µg/day

CHILDREN:

1-3 years- 0.9 µg/day

4-8 years- 1.2 µg/day

9-13 years- 1.8 µg/day

14-18 years- 2.4 µg/day

ADULTS:

19+ years- 2.4 µg/day

During Pregnancy: 2.6 µg/day

During Lactation: 2.8 µg/day

** These amounts are the Recommended Daily Intake nutrient reference values suggested by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. **

 LINKS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT VITAMIN B12:
https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/vitamin-b12
https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-and-health/vitamins-minerals-and-nutrients/vitamin-b12-your-key-facts/what-every-vegan-should-know-about-vitamin-b12
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219822.php#what_happens_in_vitamin_B12_deficiency
http://www.forksoverknives.com/nutrition-questions/

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