Famously known as an “energy vitamin,” B-12 is a water-soluble compound that plays a key role in energy metabolism. B-12 also promotes cardiovascular health, supporting the heart and circulation while maintaining normal homocysteine levels in the blood. Vitamin B-12 also helps to optimize nervous system health, and is a necessary component in the creation of red blood cells and DNA. B-12 is now being researched for its potential to assist with cognitive function.**
Despite its critical role in multiple aspects of well-being, B-12 is a nutrient that many Americans are missing. One out of every 31 adults over the age of 51 is lacking in B-12; in those over age 60, approximately 15% are deficient. Up to 50% of elderly populations are believed to be deficient in B-12. This B-12 shortfall may be partly attributed to the fact that older adults often have difficulty absorbing B-12. Since B-12 is normally found in animal-based foods, vegetarians and vegans are often deficient in the nutrient, as well.**
Vitamin B-12 Supplements
Vitamin B-12 supplements can compensate for missing B-12 and correct B-12 deficiency. B-12 supplements are commonly presented as cyanocobalamin form, which is affordable but harder to absorb and utilize. Cyanocobalamin must be converted into methylcobalamin, the active form that is found circulating in our blood, to deliver health-enhancing activity in the body. Methylcobalamin B-12 is also available in supplement form. While methylcobalamin is easier to absorb and use, it is more costly than cyanocobalamin.**
Cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin B-12 are available in B-complex supplements, usually in capsule, tablet or liquid form. B-12 supplements are also presented as standalone supplements. B-12 supplements may be tablets or capsules, but are perhaps most popular as sublingual liquids or lozenges that dissolve quickly under the tongue. Sublingual B-12 delivery is believed to help with absorption of the nutrient.**
Vitamin B-12 Directions for Use
Consult with your health care professional before taking Vitamin B-12 supplements or beginning any routine supplementation. The recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) of vitamin B-12 varies based on age, gender and health status. For those aged 14 and above, the B-12 RDA is 2.4 mcg daily. For adolescent females and pregnant women, the B-12 RDA is 2.6 mcg; this increases to 2.8 mcg for women who are nursing. In adults over age 50, who often struggle to meet B-12 recommendations, supplementation of up to 5000 mcg daily is often recommended.**
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