Because vitamin B12 helps make red blood cells and keeps your nerves working properly, it’s reassuring to know that most people don’t need to worry
Because vitamin B12 helps make red blood cells and keeps your nerves working properly, it’s reassuring to know that most people don’t need to worry about having too much, or too little, in their system. Consuming large amounts of the vitamin won’t make you sick. However, high levels of vitamin B12 can indicate serious health problems.
Vitamin B12 Basics
Several characteristics set vitamin B12 apart from other B vitamins. It’s the only one that contains a metal ion. The presence of cobalt accounts for the reason you may see it called cobalamin. Unlike the other B vitamins, which are not stored in your body, reserves of vitamin B12 are stored in your liver. It is similar to other B vitamins in one aspect: Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, so when you consume more than your body needs, your system easily eliminates it.
High Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 does not accumulate to toxic levels. Consuming large quantities does not cause side effects or high levels in your system, whether you get it through food or from taking high-dose supplements. High vitamin B12 in the bloodstream is associated with serious diseases. Medical conditions that can increase levels of vitamin B12 include liver disease, kidney failure and a group of blood cancers known as myeloproliferative disorders, which includes myelocytic leukemia and a condition that causes an overgrowth of red blood cells called polycythemia vera. Hypereosinophilic syndrome, a medical condition marked by too many white blood cells, also can cause high vitamin B12.
High vitamin B12 is a symptom of an underlying illness that causes the amount in your blood to increase. For example, a damaged liver may release the vitamin out of storage and into the blood. In early stages, illnesses associated with high vitamin B12 often have generic symptoms, such as fatigue and loss of appetite. Considering they’re potentially life-threatening conditions, early diagnosis is vital, so consult your physician when you don’t feel up to par. Blood tests are the only way to verify whether high vitamin B12 is present; excessive amounts alone won’t cause any signs.
Lack of dietary vitamin B12 puts you at risk for developing anemia and nerve damage. Adults should consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily. Needs for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding increase to 2.6 micrograms and 2.8 micrograms respectively. The only natural sources of vitamin B12 are animal products, including meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy products. If you follow a vegetarian diet, are over the age of 50 or have digestive tract problems that interfere with absorption, you may need to take supplements to fill your daily requirements.