Vitamin B12—Everything You Need to Know
Vitamin B12: you’ve probably heard of it, specially if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. But what is it? And why is it important? Here’s everything you need to know about Vitamin B12,¹ and how and why you should make sure you’re getting enough.
Vitamin B12, known in the nutrition world as cobalamin, is the most chemically complex of all the vitamins, and was the most recent vitamin to be discovered by scientists.²
Vitamin B12 is not only chemically complex, it’s extremely important to your overall health. In fact, it’s one of the most important vitamins you should be watching in your diet.
And here’s why: B12 is essential for adequate energy production, and to protect nerves and brain cells from damaging free radicals. It also teams up with other B vitamins to support healthy immune function, protect the cardiovascular system, and maintain overall energy levels.
B12 is also needed to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. Without enough B12, you can become anemic.
A lot of people who are B12 deficient³ complain of being tired, weak, lightheaded, confused, and short of breath. Some also report tingling in the hands and feet. All of these complications can be a result of the lack of adequate oxygen being delivered to important organs around the body.
Other symptoms4 include blurry vision, pale skin, weight loss, ringing in the ears, poor memory, and headaches. Left untreated, B12 deficiency can cause serious and irreversible brain and nervous system damage, which is why it’s important to be proactive, and make sure you’re getting enough in your regular diet.
Not all B12 is Created Equal
Just like folate, vitamin B12 comes in different forms, and not all are equally useful to your body. Most supplements contain cyanocobalamin—a low-cost synthetic form of the vitamin that not only must be transformed into another form (methylcobalamin) to be used by the body, but has also been shown to have negative health impacts in large amounts. This conversion is not only sometimes inefficient, but it also costs the body energy to convert.
Methylcobalamin, on the other hand, is the active form of the vitamin, and can readily be used by the body and stored in the tissues. It has proven protective benefits for the cardiovascular and nervous systems, and is the only form of the vitamin that does not require assistance to cross the blood-brain barrier and protect brain cells. This is the form is best to effectively increase B12 levels in your body, and is the form found in Nuzest Good Green Snack Bar.
There are two other forms of the vitamin, one of which is used to treat cyanide poisoning, and the other of which is a transitionary form not normally found in food. To effectively increase the amount of useable B12 in the body, look for products such as Nuzest Good Green Snack Bar, which use methylcobalamin forms of the vitamin.
B12 is absorbed in the intestines, but requires a protein called ‘intrinsic factor’ to be absorbed. If you don’t have enough intrinsic factor, you won’t be able to absorb B12, and your body will get rid of the B12 you consume as waste.
Intrinsic factor is produced in the stomach, and because of this, many people who have digestive health issues like gastritis, Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity , or drink a lot of alcohol, may be at high risk for B12 malabsorption. Certain medications can also put you at risk.
How Much B12 Do I Need?
In the US, the recommended daily allowance for healthy adults is 2.4 micrograms per day,5 though higher amounts have been recommended by some experts.
Pregnant and lactating women have higher needs. Also, B12 absorption decreases with age, so it’s recommended that people ages 51 and older consume higher than the RDA and may be benefit from a supplement.
Sources of B12
B12 is found primarily in animal products, including meat and fish. Shellfish and liver are particularly high sources of B12. But if eating clams and liver isn’t your thing, or you happen to be a vegetarian, you can get B12 from eggs, milk, and milk products (like yogurt, and Swiss cheese).
Vegans can have a difficult time getting enough B12, but it is possible. Natural plant-based sources of B12 include nutritional yeast, and some algae products6.
B12 is also fortified in many non-dairy milks, tofu products, and cereals, but the form of the vitamin used in these foods is most often the cheaper, less-absorbable form.
For those on a plant-based diet or those who simply wish to up their B12 intake, adding a methylcobalamin source of the vitamin to your regular diet could benefit your health. Grabbing a Nuzest Good Greens Snack bar on the go is a tasty, effective, and plant-based way to make sure you get the vitamin B12 you need to function at your best.