Are you getting enough of this vitamin?

If you're a vegetarian or over age 60, you need to be concerned about getting enough vitamin B12.

Lately, there's been increased concern about going overboard with vitamins. Researchers have found that a high intake of vitamin A in its retinol form is associated with a high rate of fractures. Other studies have cast a cloud of suspicion over vitamin E supplements.

Vitamin B12, though, is different: It is easier than once thought to get too little. Studies have found that 20% of Americans ages 65 and over have low levels of the vitamin in their blood. Sometimes the only symptoms are subtle cognitive and neurological changes. More serious shortages can result in dementia or anemia, because B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Breast-fed infants of mothers with a B12 deficiency are at risk for severe developmental abnormalities and irreversible neurological damage. Some experts say that it's the most common nutritional deficiency in the developing world and possibly in the United States as well.

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