Vitamin B-12 is vitamin that your body cannot synthesize and therefore one that you must obtain through food. You can get your day’s supply of vitamin B-12 by eating a chicken breast, a hard-boiled egg and a cup of plain low-fat yogurt, or a cup of raisin bran with a cup of milk mixed in. This vitamin is also water-soluble and several years' worth of the vitamin is stored in your liver.
Vitamin B-12 plays an important part in maintaining the proper functioning of your brain, nerves, blood cells and other parts of your body, MedlinePlus.com reports. This vitamin is used for treating vitamin B-12 deficiencies and pernicious anemia, a condition that makes it difficult for your intestinal tract to absorb vitamin B-12. When taken with folic acid and vitamin B6, vitamin B-12 is also effective in treating hyperhomocysteinemia, a condition that increases risk to your veins and arteries. Taking viatmin B-12 along with folic acid and vitamin B6 may also help you avoid getting an eye disease called age-related macular degeneration.
Dangers of Deficiency
Consuming vitamin B-12 prevents a harmful deficiency. About 15 percent of adults who are 65 years old or older suffer from a deficiency of vitamin B-12, according to an article in the March 1, 2003 issue of "American Family Physician." Low B-12 levels can affect your ability to make healthy red blood cells, causing anemia. If the deficiency continues, it will negatively affect your nervous system and cause nerve damage. This damage, which can be permanent, causes changes in your sense of touch, tingling in your hands and feet, and can even affect cognitive function and change your personality.
Possible Drawbacks and Risks
If you are allergic to cobalt or cobalamin, another name for vitamin B-12, you should avoid taking this vitamin, cautions MedlinePlus.com. You should also avoid taking vitamin B-12 if you suffer from the hereditary eye disease called Leher’s disease, because the vitamin could harm the optic nerve seriously, which could lead to blindness. Aside from the two cases mentioned above, an overdose of vitamin B-12 is not expected to cause any serious harm to you, Drugs.com reports. Still, should you experience any chest pain, swelling, unusual warmth, redness, or pain in an arm or leg, or feeling short of breath even with mild exertion or rapid weight gain, see a doctor immediately.
Sources and Requirements
Adult women and men need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 each day. Vitamin B-12 naturally occurs in foods such as eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish, milk and milk products, MedlinePlus.com reports. While non-animal food sources of this vitamin exist, they are considered unreliable. Those who need vitamin B-12 to treat medical conditions or people who do not consume animal products may get the vitamin in the form of supplements.
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