The B Vitamin Complex can be Complex! – Spotlight on B12

By now we know that Folic Acid is another name for an important B vitamin, B9.  But there are many other vitamins in the B vitamin family.  All these vitamins work together with folic acid to keep your body healthy and beautiful.  Today we’ll focus on the vitamin B12.

What is B12 and why do I need it?

Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient that helps keep nerve and blood cells healthy.  It also can help prevent a type of anemia that can make the body tired and weak.  Without enough vitamin B12, some people develop harmful symptoms like tiredness, weakness, memory loss, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and anemia.  It is very important to get enough B12 either through diet or a vitamin supplement.

How much B12 do I need?

The National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements recommends at least 2.6 micrograms per day for teen and adult women.  That seems like a tiny amount (compare with 400-800 micrograms a day for folic acid).  But it’s very important and easy to get from food or supplements.

How do I get enough B12?

Vitamin B12 is found in many animal foods such as beef liver, clams, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Vegans (people who do not eat any foods that come from animals) may have a problem getting enough B12 from food.  However, it is easily available in supplements.  Just like folic acid, vitamin B12 is also added to some breakfast cereals and other food products.  Check the nutrition label to see if your cereals or breads are fortified with vitamin B12.

Do the Go Folic! Multivitamins contain B12?

Yes!  Every bottle of Go Folic! Multis given out for free by the SF Health Department contains 100% of your daily dose of vitamin B12.  Find out how to get your free vitamins here.


Is there anything else I should know about B12?

Like most vitamins, many things affect the way your body uses vitamin B12.  If you are taking other medications or vitamins, you should always ask your doctor for advice on doses or interactions.  And for more info, check out the NIH’s B12 information page here.

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