As India continues with COVID-19 lockdown, we have realized one thing, that coronavirus pandemic will not go away soon due to its many uncertainties. It is yet next to impossible to completely eliminate the virus, but what is possible is to take care of ourselves by eating healthy as much as possible. We need to have a balance of all vitamins and minerals to survive these hard times. In this article, I will discuss one such very important vitamin i.e. Vitamin B12.
Recently, World Atlas has stated India to be one of the top countries following vegetarianism with 38% of the total population being vegetarians. Vitamin B12 is one of the greatest nutritional concerns for vegetarians and vegans because vitamin B12 is generally found only in animal foods.
What is Vitamin B12?
B12 is the B vitamin, also known as cobalamin. One of 8 B- complex vitamins, B12 is essential for energy production, nerve tissue formation, metabolism of carbohydrates, proper red blood cell formation and is required for proper neurological function. Vitamin B12 may play a role in the maintenance of normal homocysteine levels.
Food Sources of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products like fish, chicken, red meat, eggs, milk & milk products. Vitamin B12 is not present in plant food source and hence it is important to consume either fortified cereals or a B12 supplement on a regular basis.
Functions of Vitamin B12:
Immunity Booster: Vitamin B complex such as Vitamin B6, B9, and B12 acts as a first-line defense to let not pathogen enter the immune system. This is possible by increasing the production and activity of “natural killer” cells.
Energy Booster: All B vitamins are involved in the proper function of the metabolism. Without a properly functioning metabolism, the body has trouble pulling energy from food consumed. A deficiency of B12 might lead to the body feeling sluggish.
Protects your Heart: Elevated homocysteine levels have also been identified as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Homocysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid derived from methionine that is normally present in the blood. Elevated levels may cause many problems leading to major cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin B12, Folate, and Vitamin B6 are responsible for timely homocysteine metabolism.
Cognitive Problems: Low levels of vitamin B12 are associated with Alzheimer’s and neural tube effects in infants.
Maintaining adequate levels of B12 is very essential, due to its following functions:
- Protects your Nervous System
- Essential for Red Blood Cell (RBC) synthesis
- Helps synthesize DNA.
- Providing the Body with Energy
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of B-12 depends on a person’s age:
- Adults and teenagers: 2.4 micrograms (mcg) per day
- Children between 9 and 13 years old: 1.8 mcg per day
- Children between 4 and 8 years old: 1.2 mcg per day
- Toddlers between 1 and 3 years old: 0.9 mcg per day
Do I need to take Vitamin B12 Supplement?
Yes, very much required for pure vegetarians and vegans. Maintaining a proper level of vitamin B-12 is essential for vegetarians to ensure their bodies function properly.
The deficiency of Vitamin B12 is associated with anemia, neurological disorders, and the inability of cells to divide. This affects the normal functioning of the cells.
For vegetarians, B12 supplements are recommended at levels that meet 100% of the RDA. In fact, regardless of diet preference, the National Institutes of Health recommends that all adults over 50 years of age receive most of their vitamin B12 through supplements and fortiﬁed foods, due to impaired absorption that occurs during aging.
Thus, it is important for vegetarians and vegans to take steps to ensure an adequate amount of Vitamin B12 in their diet. Talk to your Nutritionist to take further advice.
GNC is committed to spreading health through scientific knowledge has developed a pure vegetarian Vitamin B12 supplement, which can help to meet your Vitamin B12 requirement.