AARP, The Girlfriend, Vitamin b-12, b-12, daily vitamins
Jeff Elkins
Jeff Elkins

The Girlfriend's Guide To Vitamin B12

The powerhouse vitamin for the harried and hungover.

What is it? Hello, powerhouse vitamin! This nutrient is needed for 100 daily functions in your body. It helps make DNA, nerve and blood cells. It’s crucial for a healthy brain. Plus, your metabolism can’t run smoothly without it. So yeah, it’s clutch.

How do I know if I’m deficient? If you’re feeling fatigued, dizzy, disoriented or weak over a prolonged period of time, an inadequate B12 intake could be the reason. Emphasis on could be. Go to your primary care doctor and take a simple blood test for a diagnosis. Alcohol and stress can also deplete the body of B12, and people on antacid medications are at risk as well.

How do I load up? A-list foods for B12 include animal products like beef, turkey, eggs, chicken, trout, salmon and clams. Vegans (or picky eaters) need to take a supplement or consume fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and grains.

What’s this I hear about shots? Everyone from Madonna to Katy Perry has raved about insta-energy bursts from B12 injections. But medical experts insist you’ll only feel benefits from the shots — which can be self-administered via prescription — if you’re deficient in the vitamin. Obviously check with your doctor first.

Can I overdo it? Unlike fat-soluble vitamins that can have side effects in excess, B12 is a water-soluble vitamin — that is, your body absorbs only a small amount. That’s good news if you need to replenish but worry about taking too much. Read all labels and, of course, check with your doctor first and take only the amount recommended.

More From This Week

And yet half of women will deal with it at some point in their lives.
By Jennifer Rainey Marquez
How I said goodbye to a beautiful friend.
By Laura Zinn Fromm
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
By K. Smith
Pack these in your getaway bag!
By Christina Ianzito
If it’s any consolation, you’re not the only one struggling.
By Mara Reinstein
We'd had a rough go of it, my husband and I.
By Christine Burke
Wanting to take an at-home DNA test? What you need to know first.
By Melissa Fenton
A little voice in my head told me this did not compute.
How to fulfill your obligations without sacrificing your sanity, job or life.
By Jessica McFadden

More From Health

Close Video Modal
AARP, The Girlfriend, Vitamin b-12, b-12, daily vitamins
Jeff Elkins