Ensuring your diet is right can have more positive effects than you think

Photo: CC, Colin Dunn

Remember being lectured about the importance of milk for your bones? Our parents probably should’ve nagged us a little more about vitamin B12 consumption as well. B12 deficiency has been linked to a myriad of health issues from everyday illnesses to long-term brain degradation.

Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is one of eight B vitamins, and is important for brain function, immune strength, and more. “The human body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA, and carry out other functions,” says Patrick J. Skerrett of Harvard Health.

Keeping this in mind, it would be advantageous for students to up their B12 consumption.

According to the Dieticians of Canada, it’s recommended that men and women aged 19 and above should ingest 2.4 micrograms of B12 on a daily basis.

What does that look like exactly? For example, a 250mL chocolate milk carton can give you 1.0 micrograms of B12, and if you also crack open a few eggs you’ll have racked up a total of 2.5–2.6 micrograms in that meal alone. With this in mind, even on a student budget, there’s no reason to skip out on your daily dose of B12. 

Regular consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products will make sure you get your daily fix of B12.

However, things get a little trickier if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Luckily, you can receive B12 from other foods including organic vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. Even fortified cereals and energy bars can provide a boost of the vitamin. If all else fails, the vitamin can also be found in supplement form, and even as a vaccine. Supplements shouldn’t cost more than $10-12, and are found along with any other vitamins in a store.

If you notice symptoms of B12 deficiency, or eat plant-based and are worried about your intake, a blood test can determine your levels.

Some symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness, heart palpitations and shortness of breath, and mental issues like depression, memory loss, or behavioural change according to WebMD.

A functioning immune system and brain is crucial for young adults enduring demanding studies or workloads. If you’re looking to boost your everyday and long-term health this school year, ensuring you’re stocked up on B12 might just be the place to start.

Looking to measure your B12 intake? Check out more foods loaded with B12 here: http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Vitamins/Food-Sources-of-Vitamin-B12.aspx

Please note that we are not health professionals, if you have further questions please see your doctor.