Why is Vitamin B12 Essential?
We used to think of vitamin B as a single nutrient. However, there are actually eight vitamins under the vitamin B umbrella. Each of these nutrients play an important role in cellular health and all are water soluble, meaning your body excretes what it does not use instead of storing the excess. Vitamin B12 is one of the eight that make up the B vitamin complex.
Vitamin B12 helps to keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy, supports the immune system, helps maintain normal energy levels, and is involved DNA replication. (DNA is the genetic material in all cells.) The nutrient also assists in red blood cell formation and the production of SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine). SAMe is required in more than 40 biochemical reactions in the body and helps produce brain chemicals and joint tissues.
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods. The best food sources are beef liver and clams. Eggs, fish, meat, poultry and dairy foods also contain good amounts of the nutrient. Plant foods do not contain the vitamin unless they have been fortified.
Two steps are required for the body to absorb vitamin B12 from food. First, hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates the vitamin from the protein to which it is attached in food. Next, the vitamin combines with a protein made by the stomach called intrinsic factor and is absorbed by the body.
Some people have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from food. According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, between 1.5% and 15% of the public is deficient in vitamin B12. To determine if you are deficient, ask your doctor to test your blood.
Older adults are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency because they may not have enough hydrochloric acid in their stomachs to absorb the nutrient when it is naturally present in foods. For this reason, it is recommended that people over 50 get most of their vitamin B12 from fortified foods or dietary supplements. These forms don’t require stomach acid to be absorbed.
Strict vegans are also vulnerable to a deficiency of the vitamin since the best sources of B12 are in foods that they have eliminated from their diet (beef, eggs, poultry, etc.). In addition, some medications have been associated with low levels of the vitamin.
Our Bi-Optium Eye Health delivers 500 mcg of vitamin B12 to support the delicate blood vessels in the eye and help preserve your healthy vision.