Who has heard of the B vitamins? Out of the 13 required vitamins in our diet, eight of them are in the B-group. These water-soluble vitamins play an important role in the body including forming red blood cells, regulating metabolism and nerve cell formation.
Consuming the recommended daily intake of all B vitamins should have you feeling full of energy and ready to tackle anything as they help our bodies to use the dietary energy from carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Our bodies have limited ability to store B vitamins and a poor diet can lead to deficiency so it’s important to eat a balanced diet containing whole foods and lots of variety to ensure you are getting adequate amounts.
A vitamin we regularly see in deficient levels in our clinic is Vitamin B12. Found only in animal food sources, those practising more restricted diets such as vegetarians and vegans are at higher risk of deficiency. People over 50 years and suffering gastrointestinal disorders are also at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency due to digestion and absorption issues.
Signs of B12 deficiency are often mistaken for other conditions as there tend to be common symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, lowered concentration and poor memory. Left untreated, severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to neurological disorders, anaemia and even loss of vision. It’s important to see a doctor if you suspect you have a deficiency, which can be identified through a simple blood test. Consultation with a Dietitian is also recommended.
How much do I need?
For both men and women over the age of 14 years, the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) is set at 2.4 ug/day; only increasing slightly to accommodate pregnancy and lactation. For more information refer to the table below.
|RDI for Vitamin B12|
|Men and women 14 years and over||2.4 ug/day|
|Pregnant women 14 years and over||2.6 ug/day|
|Breastfeeding women 14 years and over||2.8 ug/day|
Tips to increase your B12 intake:
1. Fortified foods:
Some breakfast cereals, soy products and plant-based milks are fortified with B12 and a great way to increase your intake.
2. Talk to your GP or Dietitian about a B12 supplement:
There are also B12 sprays available for those who find it difficult to swallow tablets.
3. Ensure your calcium intake is adequate:
Calcium plays an important role in the absorption of B12 so make sure you are getting your 2-3 serves of dairy each day (women 50+ need 4 serves of dairy per day).
4. Increase your variety of animal-based food products:
This includes meat, poultry, eggs, fish and dairy products which are all great sources of B12.
Nutrition Force is a Western Australian based company of Nutritionists and Accredited Practising Dietitians that offer healthy eating cooking classes, private dietetic consultations, children’s nutrition & dietetics, fussy eating, school nutrition and corporate wellness programs. If you would like more information on our Perth Dietitians and the other services we offer call today on (08) 9385 7755.