Vitamin B12 for Insomnia

Many studies have found that vitamin B12 promotes sleep, especially in people with sleep disorders. Researchers in Japan have used 1.5 to 3 milligrams of the vitamin each day to restore normal sleep patterns in patients.2 Exactly how this B vitamin works is not completely understood. Some researchers believe it acts by working with melatonin, a hormone that’s involved in maintaining the body’s internal clock. It’s thought that B12 may prevent disturbances in melatonin release.

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The daily recommended intake for vitamin B12 for healthy women is 2.4 micrograms. Women over the age of 50 should get their B12 mainly by eating foods fortified with the vitamin, or by taking a supplement. This is because up to 30 percent of older adults have lost the ability to properly absorb naturally occurring B12 in foods. Vitamin B12 is found in all animal foods—meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products. If you’re eating these foods every day, chances are you are meeting your B12 needs. Foods fortified with the vitamin include soy beverages, rice beverages and breakfast cereals (but check labels to be sure).

If you fall into one of the following categories, I do recommend you take a B12 supplement:

• You’re over 50 years of age.

• You’re taking antacid medication for reflux or a stomach ulcer.

• You’re a strict vegetarian who eats no animal foods.

Vitamin B12 supplements come in 500- or 1000-microgram sizes. To ensure you’re meeting your requirements, I recommend 500 micrograms once a day, with a meal. Or you may choose to take a B complex supplement to ensure you are meeting your needs for all eight B vitamins.

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