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- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B12 Quick Facts
- MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia; Vitamin B12; Feb. 15, 2011
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Your body needs vitamin B-12 to produce red blood cells, synthesize DNA and maintain proper neurological function and a healthy central nervous system. Insufficient B-12 intake or absorption can cause vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia, or a lack of healthy red blood cells. Milk and other animal products provide good dietary sources of vitamin B-12.
B-12 in Skim Milk
Skim milk, a nonfat alternative to other milks, provides a good source of vitamin B-12. A 1-cup serving of skim milk provides 1.23 micrograms of vitamin B-12. This amount provides 20.5 percent of the FDA’s recommended Daily Value, or DV, of 6.0 micrograms of vitamin B-12.
Skim milk provides slightly more vitamin B-12 than whole milk and reduced-fat milk. A 1-cup serving of 1 percent milk provides 1.15 micrograms of vitamin B-12, and a 1-cup serving of whole milk provides only 1.10 micrograms. The B-12 in 1 percent milk and whole milk provides 19.2 and 18.3 percent, respectively, of the recommended DV for this vitamin.
Other B-12 Food Sources
Other good sources of B-12 include:
- fortified breakfast cereals
If you are vegan, you can get vitamin B-12 from dietary supplements, yeasts or fortified foods 1. According to McKinley Health Center, the B-12 in fortified foods is made with the B-12 bacteria and not animal products.
B-12 Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin B-12 deficiency, or a lack of healthy red blood cells, can lead to megaloblastic anemia with symptoms such as:
- weight loss
- sore tongue
- pale skin
- reduced appetite
- difficulty concentrating
Severe or prolonged B-12 deficiency may lead to neurological symptoms such as depression, confusion, loss of balance, memory problems and dementia. Prolonged B-12 deficiency can also cause nerve damage with symptoms such as tingling and numbness in hands and feet. Consult your doctor if you suspect you have vitamin B-12 deficiency. You may have an underlying health condition that hinders your body’s ability to absorb B-12 from food.
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