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Nutritional Spotlight: Vitamin B12

With so much attention focused on the other letters of the alphabet (vitamins A, C, and D tend to hog the spotlight), vitamin B12 might have fallen off your radar.

Which could explain why so many of us are deficient in this little powerhouse, especially after a certain age. Studies show that four out of every 100 women ages 40 to 59 are B12 deficient, and many more are right on the edge. And that’s just the under-59 set: As we age, our bodies aren’t able to absorb this vitamin like we once did. This can result in such intense fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and confusion that symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can be mistaken for dementia.

The Benefits

Scary misdiagnosis aside, it’s imperative we get enough B12, aka the “energy vitamin.” B12 is responsible for keeping our metabolism running smoothly, and it is vital for a healthy brain and nervous system. It even helps create DNA and red blood cells. Forget caffeine — a daily dose of B12 might be the afternoon pick-me-up you’ve needed all along.

The Best Bets

Our bodies don’t make vitamin B12 on their own, and it can be found only in animal-based foods or supplements. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan and meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products aren’t part of your diet, you can get B12 from fortified grains and supplements. We love B12 “dots” by TwinLab.

Photo: Lauri Patterson

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