We only need very small amounts of vitamin B-12, but it is one of our most potent vitamins, essential to the health of the nervous system. It also plays a role in the production of DNA and protein from amino acids.
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Things you need
- Folic Acids
- Vitamin B-12
Take vitamin B-12 with folic acid. Folic acid helps enhance vitamin B-12's action in lowering homocysteine, an amino acid that can increase the risk of heart disease, some birth defects and Alzheimer's disease when present in high levels.
Separate your doses of vitamin C and vitamin B-12 by at least an hour. Large doses of vitamin C may destroy vitamin B-12.
Stop smoking or increase supplemental vitamin B-12. Tobacco decreases absorption.
Cut back on alcohol if you are a heavy drinker. In addition to its other detrimental health effects, excessive alcohol intake can lead to a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Check your medications. Certain drugs, such as cholestyramine, colchicine and neomycin (oral form only) reduce vitamin B-12 absorption. You may need to take extra supplementation.
Avoid taking large doses of folic acid without increasing your dose of vitamin B-12. Megadoses of folic acid can decrease vitamin B-12 levels in the blood.
Check your potassium supplement or prescription. It can reduce absorption of vitamin B-12 when taken in the extended release form. You may need extra B-12.
Assess the health of your digestive tract. A special digestive hormone called the intrinsic factor is needed for absorption of vitamin B-12. Certain illnesses and digestive disorders can hinder this process.
Tips and warnings
- Mild deficiencies of vitamin B-12 are fairly common, and are caused by inadequate intake, disease or a lack of the intrinsic factor. Common symptoms are fatigue and forgetfulness. Severe deficiencies can lead to permanent nerve damage and a condition known as pernicious anemia.
- Vitamin B-12 occurs naturally only in animal products, such as liver, beef, herring, mackerel, milk products, eggs and sardines. Vegans can get vitamin B-12 by taking supplements, eating or drinking fortified products, or adding certain yeast products to their diets.
- The optimal dose for adults is 10 to 100 mcg daily.