'Cy-anaco-bala-min' may be hard to pronounce, but it is easy to find an adequate source if you regularly eat animal protein foods eg meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs. B12 requires the trace mineral cobalt, for its formation. The cobalt-based chemical that we need for B12 formation is absorbed through the stomach wall. As we age, the acidity in our stomach sometimes decreases and we become less able to absorb this cofactor. Consequently we may become B12 deficient with age. Vitamin B12 is known for its beneficial effect on nervous system malfunctions and brain deficiencies.
- essential for the production of red blood cells.
- essential in maintaining myelin, a substance that provides a protective sheath around nerve endings.
- lack of B12 can lead to
- anaemia (a disorder where there is a change in the size of the red blood cells causing less oxygen to be transported around the body) and
- nerve damage, especially of the spinal chord sometimes resulting in paralysis.
- As B12 only occurs in animal products vegans are particularly at risk.
- Pernicious anaemia is caused by a lack of intrinsic factor in the body which helps B12 be absorbed.
Good sources include - most meats - particularly liver and kidneys.
- Fish such as sardines, oysters and pilchards
- and eggs, milk and cheese
- Soy drinks may be fortified with vitamin B12. 2
Children from age 12 through to adults: 2 micrograms per day
Children aged 8-11 yrs: 1.5 micrograms per day