Is “B” for the bones? Most people think about vitamin B12 as a vital nutrient for our blood cells, energy and nervous system, but it might also be a key nutrient for bone health. A study from Germany found that vegetarians had lower levels of vitamin B12 than their omnivorous counterparts (B12 is mainly found in animal foods), and higher levels of components in their blood that indicate a higher degree of bone breakdown — thus, a potentially higher risk for osteoporosis.
Should we all start increasing our B12 intake either via food or supplements to decrease our chances for osteoporosis? Not so fast. The idea that B12 plays a role in bone health is just a theory. The researchers stated that some studies have indicated B12 might increase the production of osteoblasts — the cells of our body that have a major role in producing bone. But this has not yet been proven. The study was also fairly small and used a very specific group of people – less than 200 people total, German or Asian-Indian, and only men.
That doesn’t mean you don’t need vitamin B12, it just means you might not need it for bone health. You definitely need it for your blood cells, energy and brain/nervous system. Most adults need about 2.4 micrograms each day, which you can get from:
- Any animal product, including meat, fish, seafood, poultry, dairy and eggs
- Nutritional yeast, mushrooms, seaweed
- Some fortified breakfast cereals or non-dairy milks (check the label)