Ideal value of vitamin B12: The best tips and tricks for the ideal dosage

Idealwert von Vitamin B12: Die besten Tipps und Tricks fĂĽr die ideale Dosierung

In order for your body to function properly and you can lead a balanced, healthy life, you need to pay attention to your vitamin intake. There are vitamins that receive much more attention, and there are those that almost everyone forgets about. An example of this is vitamin B12.

In this article, we explain and scientifically justify why you should make sure you get the right amount of vitamin B12 into your body every day. Among other things, the ideal amount, the function of vitamin B12 in the body and the possible negative effects of low vitamin B12 intake are mentioned and explained.

the essentials in brief

  • Vitamin B12 is the only water-soluble vitamin that the body can store. This makes overdosing very difficult as what the body cannot use is saved for later.
  • The daily ideal value of vitamin B12 depends heavily on age and gender. Women are advised to take higher doses of this vitamin during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • You can use a self-test to determine your vitamin B12 levels or ask your doctor for an appointment. It is worth doing a blood test at least once a year, since vitamin deficiency can lead to serious health problems.

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Definition: What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12, or is often called cobalamin, is the only water-soluble vitamin that can be stored in the body for several years. It is mainly stored in the liver. Vitamin B12 is one of the B vitamins.

The term vitamin B12 does not stand for a single chemical substance. Vitamin B12 means several compounds with the same biological effect. Vitamin B12 absorption requires a special protein, the so-called intrinsic factor.

These cobalamins are produced exclusively by bacteria. Animal products such as liver, meat, eggs or dairy products are particularly rich in B12 vitamins. Interestingly, a large amount of vitamin B12 is found in microbially produced foods like sauerkraut.

Salmon

Among other things, salmon has a positive effect on the vitamin B12 level. In addition, salmon is extremely high in omega-3, which is why consumption is highly recommended (Image source: David B Townsend/unsplash).

The functions of vitamin B12:

  • Vitamin B12 is necessary for the formation of red blood cells.
  • Helps build nerve cells in the spinal cord
  • Plays an important role in protein and nucleic acid metabolism.

This data also shows that vitamin B12 plays a very important role in the healthy functioning of the body. Therefore, you should make sure you are consuming the right amount of this important vitamin.

Background: What you should know about the ideal value of vitamin B12

In this section we have collected questions that arise very frequently about the ideal value of vitamin B12. Among other things, it is about the appropriate amount of vitamin B12 and its determination. In addition, you will find out the main symptoms of both vitamin B12 deficiency and overdose.

What is the ideal value for the vitamin B12 level?

Vitamin B12 requirements are mainly determined by age and gender. In the basic case, it is worth consuming the same amount of vitamin B12 for women as for men, but intake should be increased during pregnancy and lactation.

The table below shows the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12:

Old Men Women women during pregnancy and lactation
0 to 3 years 0.4 to 0.9 mcg 0.4 to 0.9 mcg -
4 to 8 years 1.2mcg 1.2mcg -
9 to 13 years 1.8mcg 1.8mcg -
14 years and older 2.4mcg 2.4mcg 2.8 to 2.8mcg

(7)

As the table shows, women and men have the same vitamin B12 requirements, except during pregnancy and lactation.

In childhood , it is better to consume a smaller amount of the vitamin. As children grow, the amount of vitamin B12 should be increased gradually.

However, by the onset of adolescence (around age 14) we get a general score on vitamin intake.

However, this amount may not be enough in adulthood , as there can be huge differences due to body weight and height.

The values ​​in the table show the amount of vitamin B12 that the average person needs. However, you may want to seek medical advice to get the most accurate reading.

How do I find out my vitamin B12 level?

Current levels of vitamin B12 in the body can be determined in two ways: using a self-test, which can be purchased online or at a pharmacy, or through a doctor's exam. In the next two paragraphs we will briefly show you the advantages and disadvantages of both methods.

self test

To perform the self-test, you must first disinfect your hands. After that you need a few drops of blood, from your finger, like a blood sugar test. Your test case should then be registered online and sent to the lab in a well-packaged form. There, the doctors analyze your submitted sample and inform you of the results within a few days.

The advantage of a self-test is that you can carry out the purchased test from the comfort of your own home. You take the test when you have time for it. You don't need to make an appointment with your doctor or queue up unnecessarily. Simple and quick solution.

Advantages
  • comfortable
  • no appointment with the doctor necessary
  • easy to do
Disadvantages
  • must be self-financed
  • the test must be sent by post
  • only provides data on vitamin B12
  • The downside is that unlike a medical test, you have to pay for a self-test. Another disadvantage is the time-consuming sending of the sample. Unlike the traditional medical blood test, the rapid test only provides data on vitamin B12. During a medical examination, almost every component of the blood is examined.

    The self-test is primarily recommended for those who want to get vitamin B12 data from the comfort of their own home.


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    Physical examination

    The medical test is similar to the self-test. In this case, too, the vitamin B12 levels are detected using a blood sample. It is important to only consume water in the 6-8 hours before the test. This is because the food you eat can affect the amount of vitamin B12 in your blood.

    Here blood is drawn through a vein. Once a sufficient amount of blood has been drawn, the sample is sent to the laboratory for analysis. Your doctor will tell you the results and next steps after the analysis.

    The advantage of a medical examination is that not only the vitamin B12 level, but also almost all other components of your blood are analyzed. The test is covered by your health insurance, so you don't have to pay for it separately.

    Advantages
    • better results
    • Costs are covered by health insurance
    Disadvantages
  • long waiting times for blood test
  • uncomfortable for needle phobics
  • The downside is that if you can't make an appointment, you'll have to wait a long time for a blood sample. In addition, the test can be uncomfortable for people with needle phobia.

    We can only recommend the medical test to everyone every year, because not only the test can prove the vitamin B12 level.

    What happens if I fall below the ideal value of vitamin B12?

    If you do not meet the ideal value for vitamin B12, i.e. you consume less vitamin B12 than your body needs, some symptoms can occur. These symptoms may not seem severe at first, but can become very uncomfortable and dangerous in the long run. These symptoms should be considered if you think you may be vitamin B12 deficient:

    Pale or yellowish skin: Since vitamin B12 plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells, the first signs of vitamin B12 deficiency can appear on the skin. Unhealthy, pale or even yellowish skin tones are the hallmarks of low vitamin B12 intake. (8th)

    Mood swings: According to one study, low vitamin B12 levels can even lead to depression. However, over the long term (several weeks or even years), the vitamin can reduce the risk of recurrence. (9)

    Another study found that a 21-year-old woman suffering from bipolar type I disorder, however, by increasing the dose of vitamin B12 there was a dramatic resolution of cognitive impairment. (10)

    Based on these, it can be concluded that a low intake of vitamin B12 can cause mood swings. However, when taken in the right dose, it can either reduce or even eliminate these symptoms.

    Blurred vision: Blurred vision can occur when someone has a persistent vitamin B12 deficiency. When the nervous system is damaged, the optic nerves can also be damaged, leading to the eyes. And this is manifested by a deterioration in vision. (11)

    What happens if I exceed the ideal level of vitamin B12?

    You can consume too much of anything, even vitamins. You would think that the more vitamins you consume, the more will be incorporated into your body. But that's not how it works.

    However, vitamin B12 is a little different in this regard. Essentially, because vitamin B12 can be stored by the body, it cannot be consumed in excessive doses. Because if the organization doesn't need it, they just store it.

    There was a study that looked at this issue. In patients with diabetic nephropathy supplemented with at least 1 mg vitamin B12 per day, a decrease in glomerular filtration rate and an increase in vascular events have been observed. (12)

    What positive effects does vitamin B12 have on the body when the ideal value is reached?

    When your daily B12 intake reaches the right level, you will experience significant changes within yourself.

    It has a positive effect on the formation of red blood cells and the prevention of anemia

    The consumption of vitamin B12 has a positive effect on health and the formation of red blood cells. Healthy blood cells are small and round. However, this can only be achieved with the right amount of vitamin B12. So if you take enough vitamins every day, your blood count will be healthy.

    Vitamin B12 is also highly recommended for people with anemia, as anemia is characterized by a low red blood cell count.

    It has a positive effect on bone health

    According to an experiment, those with low vitamin B12 levels usually also have lower bone density. This study examined more than 2,500 subjects and made the results of the experiment credible. (13)

    Lower bone density can lead to later osteoporosis, which can even lead to reduced mobility. Thus, the intake of vitamin B12 has a significant impact on bone health.

    It has a mood-enhancing and antidepressant effect

    We have already mentioned that lack of vitamin B12 can lead to depression and mood swings. However, when vitamin B12 is used in the right amount for the right time period (several months or even years), it can alleviate these diseases. (9)

    It can have an energizing effect

    By default, consumption of B12 vitamin does not result in an increase in energy levels. It doesn't cause a reaction as it's just a vitamin.

    leap of joy

    Vitamin B12 reduces the symptoms of depression and depression, making you happier and more energetic (Image source: Peter Conlan/unsplash).

    However, a study of 40 lacunar stroke patients showed that energy levels and depression improved significantly in patients taking vitamin B12. (14)

    So if you don't attach much importance to the dosage of vitamin B12 at the moment, but you feel tired, you should increase your vitamin B12 intake.

    Vitamin B12 dosage: The best tips and tricks to achieve the ideal vitamin B12 value

    In the next sections we would like to advise you on how to meet your daily vitamin B12 requirements in the simplest and healthiest way. This includes naturally occurring sources of vitamin B12, but supplements can also help you find the right amount for your body.

    Balanced nutrition

    With a well-formulated, balanced diet, almost every vitamin can be absorbed into the body. Vitamin B12 is no exception as there are many natural sources. Here are some foods you might want to include in your diet if you find your daily vitamin B12 intake is low.

    liver

    We have already mentioned that the human body can store vitamin B12 in the liver. However, this is not only the case in the human body. Animal liver has exceptionally high levels of vitamin B12.

    Lamb liver is one of the best sources of vitamin B12 as it contains almost 86 mcg of vitamin B12 per 100 grams. It is also recommended for its high levels of vitamin A and selenium. (1)

    Beef liver also contains almost 60 mcg of vitamin B12, but has lower levels of vitamin A and selenium, but in return contains more iron. (2)

    shell

    Dishes made from mussels are generally very healthy. They are popular primarily for their protein content, but their vitamin B12 content is exceptionally high. 100 grams of mussels contain an average of 98 µg of vitamin B12, which means that you can consume a smaller amount to cover the daily amount of vitamin B12. Due to their high iron content, it may be worth including mussels more often in your diet. (3)

    beef

    Consuming beef also offers several benefits. Those who lead an active lifestyle prefer it for its high protein content. 100 grams of raw beef steak contains more than 20 grams of protein. 100 grams of low-fat beef steak contain 2 µg of vitamin B12, which is significantly less than, for example, beef liver, but also has a higher protein content. In addition to being high in vitamin B12, beef is also rich in vitamins B2 and B6. (4)

    In order for the meat to lose as little vitamin B12 as possible during cooking, it is better to grill it than to fry it. The B12 content decreased by almost 60% during roasting, while this value is only about 30% during grilling. (5)

    Salmon

    Salmon is best known for its high omega 3 and protein content. 100 grams of salmon fillet contains almost 20 grams of protein. At 1.3 µg per 100 grams, the vitamin B12 content is also lower than that of the other foods mentioned above. Due to the high content of omega-3 fatty acids, however, we can only recommend consumption. (6)

    It's a common suggestion that everyone should eat sea fish at least once a week.

    dietary supplements

    As with most vitamins, vitamin B12 gives you the option of supplementing your daily vitamin B12 intake with dietary supplements. But as the name suggests, these are supplements only, so they are not a substitute for a varied, balanced diet.

    In the following we will briefly introduce you to the two most common formulations of vitamin B12, namely in tablet and drop form. We will mention the pros and cons of both, among other things. With this brief comparison we would like to make your purchase decision easier.

    Vitamin B12 tablets

    One of the most common forms of vitamin B12 is in pill form. As with most vitamins, it is also true here that the tablets are accurate and easy to dose. The reason for this is that each tablet contains the same amount of active ingredient. All you need to take the pill is some liquid.

    It is also worth noting that vitamin B12 tablets are cheaper than B12 drops. This makes the tablet form an ideal choice for families where several people want to supplement their vitamin B12 intake.

    Advantages
    • easy to dose
    • easy to take
    • inexpensive
    Disadvantages
  • not everyone can swallow the pills
  • difficult to adjust dosage
  • The downside is that not everyone can swallow a pill. Therefore, drops are the better choice for them. In addition, dosing the vitamin is a bit more difficult since each tablet contains the same amount of the vitamin. Therefore, it is not possible to fully customize the quantity.

    In the vast majority of cases, vitamin B12 in tablet form is a better choice than drops. We recommend the B12 vitamin tablet especially for families and those who want to take the vitamin easily and quickly.

    Vitamin B12 drops

    Vitamin B12 is also available in drop form. Unlike traditional tablet formulations, taking the drops poses no problem for anyone as they can be mixed into any liquid. Therefore, it can be an ideal choice for those who cannot swallow pills.

    Another advantage of the drop formulation is that it is easy to dose. In the case of tablets, the relatively high active ingredient content makes it difficult to adjust the amount to be administered. However, this is not a problem in this case.

    Advantages
    • easy for everyone to consume
    • easy dosing
    Disadvantages
  • lower active ingredient content
  • more expensive than tablets
  • However, due to the low active ingredient content per drop, this version may be more expensive for those looking to take a higher dose of vitamin B12.

    B12 drops are primarily recommended for those who cannot swallow pills. In all other cases, the tablet form is a cheaper and easier solution.

    Regular medical blood tests

    You can determine your vitamin B12 level yourself at home or even visit your doctor. The test performed by your doctor is usually more complicated because you have to follow your doctor's instructions. In addition, the results are much more accurate. After receiving the results, you have the opportunity to ask your doctor for a recommendation on vitamin B12 consumption during a joint consultation. If your doctor advises you to put together a special diet, you should consult with a specialist diabetic.

    All of this may seem complicated and unnecessary at first, but if you notice the above symptoms, you should definitely consult your doctor before any bigger problem arises.

    Conclusion

    Vitamin B12 is not considered by many to be as important to the body as other vitamins. This is because its positive effects on the body are very difficult to notice. In contrast, however, the negative effects are clear.

    It is not essential to take supplements to achieve recommended daily vitamin B12 levels, as many foods are high in vitamin B12. With a well-formulated diet, vitamin B12 does not need to be consumed separately. However, if you still cannot reach the recommended daily dose, you have the option to choose between tablets and drops.

    Individual proofs(14)

    1. FoodData Central: Lamb, variety meats and by-products, liver, cooked, pan-fried Source
    2. FoodData Central: Beef, variety meats and by-products, liver, raw Source
    3. FoodData Central: Mollusks, clam, mixed species, cooked, moist heat Source
    4. FoodData Central: Beef, grass-fed, strip steaks, lean only, raw source
    5. Czerwonka M, Szterk A, Waszkiewicz-Robak B. Vitamin B12 content in raw and cooked beef. Meat Sci. 2014;96(3):1371-1375. doi:10.1016/j.meatsci.2013.11.022 Source
    6. FoodData Central: Fish, salmon, chinook, raw Source
    7. Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS): Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for Health Professionals Source
    8. Green R, Datta Mitra A. Megaloblastic Anemias: Nutritional and Other Causes. Med Clinic North Am. 2017;101(2):297-317. doi:10.1016/j.mcna.2016.09.013 Source
    9. Almeida OP, Ford AH, Flicker L. Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials of folate and vitamin B12 for depression. Int psychogeriatr. 2015;27(5):727-737. doi:10.1017/S1041610215000046 Source
    10. Reid SD. Pseudodementia in a twenty-one-year-old with bipolar disorder and vitamin B12 and folate deficiency. West Indian Med J. 2000;49(4):347-348. Source
    11. Ralapanawa DM, Jayawickreme KP, Ekanayake EM, Jayalath WA. B12 deficiency with neurological manifestations in the absence of anemia. BMC Res Notes. 2015;8:458. Published 2015 Sep 18. doi:10.1186/s13104-015-1437-9 Source
    12. House AA, Eliasziw M, Cattran DC, et al. Effect of B-vitamin therapy on progression of diabetic nephropathy: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2010;303(16):1603-1609. doi:10.1001/ jama.2010.490Source
    13. Tucker KL, Hannan MT, Qiao N, et al. Low plasma vitamin B12 is associated with lower BMD: the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. J Bone Miner Res. 2005;20(1):152-158. doi:10.1359/ JBMR.041018Source
    14. Huijts M, Duits A, Staals J, van Oostenbrugge RJ. Association of vitamin B12 deficiency with fatigue and depression after lacunar stroke. PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30519. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030519 Source
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