B12 is the most chemically complex vitamin, performing multiple functions in our bodies. B12 is essential for DNA synthesis and instrumental in decreasing homocysteine levels (high levels of which are linked to risk of cardiovascular disease and may impede learning and memory). In addition, B12 helps to process proteins and is involved in producing neurotransmitters- chemicals the nervous system and brain need for healthy functioning.
Who May Be Deficient
As we age, we require larger amounts of B12 to protect against neurological deterioration. Ten to fifteen percent of people over the age of 60 are estimated to be deficient; usually that’s a result of pernicious anemia or food malabsorption. These individuals may need B12 injections, available by prescription. People with digestive disorders may also be deficient in B12. Anti-gout and anticoagulant medicines- as well as potassium supplements- may block B12 absorption in the digestive tract. B12 is needed to prevent anemia because it assists folic acid in regulating the formation of red blood cells and helps our bodies utilize iron. Vegans and vegetarians may require supplementation , since this vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products. It is also available from sea vegetables, such as kelp, and from soy products.
Food Sources: steamed Clams, Mussels and Crab, baked Salmon, cooked Beef and skim milk.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
Children 1-3 years 0.9 mcg/day
Children 4-8 years 1.2 mcg/day
Children 9-13 years 1.8 mcg/day
Adolescents 14-18 years 2.4 mcg/day
Adults 19-50 years 2.4 mcg/day
Adults 51 and older 2.4 mcg/day*
* Intake should be from supplements or fortified foods due to malabsorption of food-bound B12.
Source: Natural Solutions August 2010