Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B12 in Your Diet? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on June 24, 2013

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B12 in Your Diet?

If it seems as though you’re too exhausted to get through the day—despite your efforts to get a good night’s sleep—there may be a surprising underlying issue at hand. Doctors have found that many Americans aren’t getting enough Vitamin B12 in their daily diet, which can be the reason why you may be feeling tired and “off” lately. 

Vitamin B12 is vital for maintaining a healthy body, as it helps form new blood cells, create DNA, turn food we eat into energy, and more. It’s one of the many elements that allows our body to work properly, and recent research suggests up to 20 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough of it on a daily basis.    

The effects of a Vitamin B12 deficiency can be tremendous, and can include depression, paranoia, memory loss, nerve damage, mood swings, delusions, incontinence, loss of taste and smell, and more. Yes, this one little vitamin can cause major health problems. Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we include plenty of vitamin B12 in our diets, and it all starts with knowing whether you’re at risk or not. 

Since meat is a major source of Vitamin B12, those who follow a strict vegetarian diet are more likely to develop a deficiency, unless they get the vitamin from another source. Weight loss surgery and digestive disorders, such as celiac or Crohn’s disease, can make it difficult for your body to absorb the vitamin from food. You might also be at a greater risk of having a deficiency if you’re over the age of 50; over time, the body reduces the amount of gastric acid necessary to absorb Vitamin B12. 

So how can you make sure you’re getting enough? 

The recommended daily requirement for Vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms a day. To make sure you’re getting plenty of it to keep you going each day, be sure to adhere to the following tips: 

  • Eat Foods High in Vitamin B12: This includes beef, eggs, poultry, seafood, pork, and dairy products. The vitamin is often added to foods, such as fortified breakfast cereals, breads, and other grains as well. Be sure to check nutrition labels to make sure it includes the vitamin.
  • Take a Supplement or Multivitamin: This is especially good for those over the age of 50 or those with digestive disorders, since it doesn’t require gastric acid for the body to break down the vitamin. 
  • Get Vitamin B12 Shots or Pills: This is recommended if you have already been diagnosed with a deficiency. 

Find additional information at Crozer-Keystone Health System’s Nutrition Services. To make an appointment, please contact a Crozer-Keystone nutrition center that is convenient for you: Crozer-Chester Medical Center (610-447-2300); Delaware County Memorial Hospital (610-284-8330); Springfield Hospital (610-328-8710); or Taylor Hospital (610-595-6165).

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