Status: 18.09.2023, 19:14 p.m.
Many people take vitamin B12 as a dietary supplement. But what should be considered when taking it? And when is it even necessary to supplement the vitamin?
Munich – If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you are probably familiar with vitamin B12 supplementation. In the supermarket you can find many vegan and vegetarian substitute products that are added with the vitamin and advertise with it. But that's not all: many people who follow a diet with meat also supplement the vitamin. Already in 2021, one in two people took dietary supplements.
However, it is often not questioned whether the dosage is correct and whether supplementation is really necessary. You can read here what you should pay attention to when taking vitamin B12 and what side effects there may be.
What does the body need vitamin B12 for?
Vitamin B12 is important for basic bodily functions. Thus, it plays a role in energy production and the processing of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. In addition, the vitamin is important for nerve fibers and the transmission of nerve impulses, it thus supports the cognitive functions of the body.
B12 supplementation: What needs to be considered when taking it? © Aleksandr Grechanyuk/Imago
It is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters that affect mood and mental health. In addition, the vitamin reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What foods contain vitamin B12?
According to the Baden-Württemberg State Center for Nutrition, these foods contain vitamin B12:
- Meat and fish
- Offal, such as liver
- Milk and dairy products
Some seaweed also has a high vitamin B12 content. However, the nutrient is present here in a form that cannot be utilized by humans.
Who should supplement vitamin B12?
Although a vegan diet is often considered healthy, it is not always healthy. Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can develop more quickly here. Therefore, vitamin B12 supplementation is important and correct. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends that vegans take supplements permanently. Vegetarians can prevent a deficiency by eating dairy and egg products, but still often have a deficiency.
Older people also have an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, according to the DGE. In old age, the efficiency of the gastrointestinal tract decreases, which makes it difficult to absorb. People who suffer from pancreatic or gastrointestinal diseases, such as inflammation of the gastric mucosa or Crohn's disease, must also be careful not to develop a deficiency.
What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
People who are deficient in vitamin B12 have the following symptoms, according to the Msd Manual, a medical manual:
- Tiredness, difficulty concentrating
- Weakness and exhaustion
- Partial shortness of breath, lightheadedness and rapid pulse
- Tingling in the feet and hands to the point of numbness
- Difficulty walking
A blood test at the doctor's office can provide clarity.
How can vitamin B12 be taken?
The preparations are versatile: from capsules to powder, syringes and lozenges. Stiftung-Warentest regularly examines the quality of the dietary supplements. Supplementation is relatively safe and side effects rarely occur – nevertheless, intake through natural foods should always be preferred to supplementation.
Is too much B12 harmful?
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment proposes a maximum amount of 25 μg per day in food supplements. Risks of overdose are still unknown, as excess B12 is normally excreted. (nb)