B12 is a key nutrient needed to make red blood cells, DNA, and helps keep the nervous system working right. Although B12 deficiencies are rare (about 1 in 1,000 Americans), the incidence rises with age to about 15% of the population. The rate is higher for those who don’t eat meat or dairy products, who have digestion problems, for those taking acid-blocking meds, and those talking Metformin for type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency are numbness and tingling in the feet, anemia, depression, dementia, mental confusion, loss of appetite, low energy, and balance problems. Long-term damage can cause nerve damage and neurological problems that may be irreversible.

B12 is one of the newest vitamins-it was discovered in 1948. It originates in bacteria, yeast, and microbes in the soil. Plants can’t store it, so the only way people can get it is from meat. liver, poultry, fish and dairy products. Past the age of 51, most people can’t absorb much of it from food since stomach acid is needed to release it from food particles. A key enzyme in stomach acid needed for this removal declines with age, so I advise those in that age group to supplement with at least 1000 mcg/day. Taking too much vitamin B12 is unlikely to be harmful; the excess is simply excreted out. You can take shots or try sublingual forms-give it a shot.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.