Why is vitamin B12 so important?
Vitamin B12 comes from the B group of vitamins. Unlike most other vitamins, however, it can neither be produced in, or stored by your body, and therefore can only be absorbed through certain types of food, or health supplements. Vitamin B12 is an important nutritional requirement for the body as it aids in the production of red blood cells, protects the nerves from damage and ensures structural stability of certain chromosome regions, apart from being able to also carry out other bodily functions. The human body is capable of producing millions of red blood cells every minute. However, this process can only be made possible if there is an adequate supply of vitamin B12 to carry oxygen throughout the body. Contrastingly, a lack of vitamin B12 can lead to physical and psychological problems in the body such as impaired vision, mouth ulcers, irritability and depression.
Important facts to know about Vitamin B12
Given the fact that vitamin B12 cannot be stored by your body, it therefore needs to be provided on a daily basis through certain types of food, or a health supplement. For example, adults between the age of 19 – 64 need approximately 1.5 microgram (mcg) of vitamin B12 per day. Food products that double up as natural sources of vitamin B12 include fish, meat, eggs and dairy products.
* Vitamin B12 is water-soluble and can travel through the bloodstream.
Frequent consumption of these food products can ensure that your body absorbs an adequate amount of vitamin B12 for your everyday needs. This, however, can be a problem for both vegetarians and vegans alike, as their consumption of plant-based food products prevent them from supplementing their bodies with vitamin B12 (which is primarily available through animal-based foods). Fortunately, a number of refined vegetarian and vegan food options which contain vitamin B12 are available. These include fortified cereals, plant milks, bread and nutritional yeast. As an alternative, you can also choose to supplement your body with a combination of vitamins that includes vitamin B12 and minerals as well as other essential nutrients required for healthy body function.