Vitamin B12 is another important nutrient required for a healthy body. The vitamin plays a key role in the nervous system and in the creation of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 also helps your body release energy from the food you eat, and is required for effective absorption of folic acid. The vitamin is necessary for normal growth and development, particularly in the young.
Food sources of Vitamin B12 include liver, kidneys, beef and most seafood. Eggs and dairy products are also high in Vitamin B12.
The European Commission daily recommendation for Vitamin B12 is 1mcg for both men and women. In the United States, the recommendations are considerably higher at 3mcg daily. The UK RDA for Vitamin B12 is somewhere in the middle at 1.5mcg for men and women.
Vitamin B12 deficiency develops either because the stomach cannot produce enough intrinsic factor, the intestine cannot absorb enough vitamin B12, or as a direct result of not eating enough food containing the vitamin. A dietary deficiency of Vitamin B12 is rare except in Vegans who may struggle to consume enough foods rich in the vitamin.
A lack of vitamin B12 in the body has an adverse affect on the production of red blood cells, leading to the development of anemia. Symptoms of anemia include pale skin, loss of weight, soreness of the tongue, diarrhea, menstrual problems, and reduced resistance to infections. If left untreated, the nervous system becomes affected leading to muscle weakness, tingling of the fingers and balance problems.
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