Understanding Vitamin B12, its uses, its sources and symptoms of deficiency

By September 25, 2020 Health & Nutrition

Sourced with thanks from today.com

Vitamin B12 is considered something of a hot health supplement — especially since COVID-19. However, it’s a still a lesser known vitamin and awareness levels about how it helps us and what are the sources of B12 and what does a deficiency mean are still very low. In the article below, the author has compiled together information from various sources and presented a good overview on B12. A useful read to get more familiar with B12. Team RetyrSmart

Understanding Vitamin B12, its uses, its sources and symptoms of deficiency

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What is Vitamin B12

This essential nutrient works to preserve the health of your nerve and blood cells. Vitamin B12 also helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells, and helps to prevent a type of anaemia called megaloblastic anaemia that makes people tired and weak.

Vitamin B12 is essential for proper neurological and metabolic functioning, including the transport of oxygen in our bodies. B12 is used to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen in the body. It is also a ‘co-factor’ in DNA synthesis. Finally, B12 is required to make myelin, the protective layer that coats nerve cells.

Our bodies need vitamin B12, but they don’t make it on their own. But if you have a very varied diet, it’s not necessary for most people to take a supplement.

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You can get more of this nutrient in your diet by eating vitamin B12 foods like:

  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Fortified non-dairy milks
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Beef, liver and chicken
  • Fish, such as canned tuna, salmon and rainbow trout
  • Clams
  • Nutritional yeast

Who is prone to vitamin B12 deficiency?

The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B12 for adults isn’t much — 2.4 mcg. But since it’s mainly consumed through meat and fish, people on plant-based or vegan diets might want to consider a vitamin B12 supplement, as well as consuming foods fortified with vitamin B12.

Since vitamin B12 is absorbed through the small intestine, certain medical conditions, like celiac or Crohn’s disease, can interfere with its absorption. You need intrinsic factor, a protein made in the stomach, to help absorb B12. Surgery that removes or bypasses parts of the small intestine or stomach (gastrectomy) increase the risk for B12 deficiency. Autoimmune conditions, including Type 1 diabetes may also increase the risk for B12 deficiency if it affects the ability to absorb B12 from food.

Those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux should also talk to their doctor about their vitamin B12 levels, as should older people, who are especially prone to a B12 deficiency because they don’t make as much stomach acid.

A vitamin B12 deficiency may cause symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Anaemia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Depression
  • Soreness of the mouth and tongue
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty maintaining balance
  • Neurological issues, such as tingling in your hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Personality changes
  • Unsteady movements
  • Mental confusion or forgetfulness

What to do if you think you are vitamin B12 deficient

Even though the chances of overdoing the B12 supplement are very low, Vitamin B12 does, however, have the potential to interact with certain medications, so be sure to talk to your doctor before taking a B12 supplement.


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