Your Best Sources of Organic Vitamin B12
Your body cannot make its own vitamin B12, so you have to obtain it from the food you eat. This vitamin is crucial for maintaining the health of red blood cells and nerve cells. It also plays a key role in the creation of DNA, the genetic blueprints in all cells. B12 helps develop the protective myelin sheaths that surround your nerve fibers. The vitamin is absorbed from food in your gut with the help of a compound called intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor is made by the stomach mucosa.
Vitamin B12 will not be absorbed unless intrinsic factor is present. Deficiencies of B12 can cause serious disease, but it takes a long time to show up because your liver can store a supply of up to seven years’ worth. Good organic sources of B12 include liver, milk, eggs, fish, cheese, and muscle meats. B12 refers to a family of chemicals called cobalamines because they contain the metal cobalt.
Eat Your Vitamin B12
Plants and animals are unable to make Vitamin B12. Only bacteria can make it. But the B12 made by bacteria that live in the human gut cannot be absorbed to your bloodstream. That’s why people have to get most their vitamin B12 by eating animal products. But according to the National Institutes of Health, up to 30 percent of adults over age 50 may be unable to properly absorb vitamin B12 in their guts. Vegetarians also face a risk of developing a B12 deficiency. But these people are able to use the vitamin B12 in organic food or vitamins. The government’s Daily Reference Intakes for the vitamin are 2.4 micrograms for adults.
Organic Food Sources Rich in Vitamin B12
The most reliable sources are from organic foods of animal origin. These include liver, milk, eggs, cheese, poultry, fish and meat, which are all available as organic products. A single eight-ounce glass of organic skim milk provides close to half the government’s Dietary Reference Intake amount of vitamin B12. One egg or one ounce of roasted white-meat turkey each have about 20 percent of the daily requirement.
How B12 Helps You Live
Like all vitamins, B12 is a compound required in minute amounts for the growth and maintenance of your body. Folate, another member of the B Vitamin family, is essential for the synthesis of DNA. But folate cannot help create DNA unless it is first activated by B12. If either B12 is deficient, the result is megaloblastic anemia. In this kind of anemia, the red blood cells are enlarged and do not carry oxygen properly. But a deficiency of B12 also can lead to damage to the nervous system. Early symptoms are numbness and tingling for the hands and feet. A folate deficiency will not cause this kind of anemia.
Not Enough B12
Usually, a B12 deficiency doesn’t usually come from getting too little in your diet. Rather, it is because B12 isn’t being absorbed in your gut. A frequent cause of this is a lack of intrinsic factor, the chemical made in your stomach that is required for B12 absorption. This can cause a disease called pernicious anemia, which used to be fatal. Now, it can be managed successfully. Late symptoms of a B12 deficiency include loss of memory, mood changes and even psychosis, and a lack of white blood cells and platelets. Damage to the nervous system usually can be reversed by treatment with supplemental B12.