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As Veganuary draws to a close we wanted to remind our community members of the importance of checking their levels of Vitamin B12, which can be deficient in people who don’t consume animal products – as well as for other reasons.

Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells and normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. A deficiency can easily be missed with sufferers becoming anaemic, leaving them feeling tired, weak and lacking in energy.

Here’s a quick run down of what you need to know about Vitamin B12:

 

How much Vitamin B12 do I need?
Adults need more B12 than children, and if you are pregnant or breast-feeding then you require even more. B12 is only found in animal-based foods, so if you are vegan or vegetarian,  it can be hard to keep your levels up.

 

What foods provide Vitamin B12?
Beef, liver and clams are great sources of Vitamin B12. Fish and poultry products also contain the vitamin, as do some cereals and dried foods that have had Vitamin B12 added to them in production.

 

Am I getting enough Vitamin B12?
Most people have enough Vitamin B12 from just eating a healthy diet, and a simple blood test can tell you if your levels are good.

Some people take a multi-vitamin every day, so check if that contains Vitamin B12 as an ingredient.

Some people are not getting enough vitamins and minerals in their diet, and other people may not be absorbing them well enough.

Certain people may be at greater risk:

  • Older people, as they have less stomach acid which is needed to break down the Vitamin B12 from food and get it ready for absorption.
  • People with a condition called Pernicious Anaemia have trouble absorbing Vitamin B12, and need receive it via an injection from their doctor.
  • If you have had any stomach surgery, that can decrease your potential to absorb this vitamin sufficiently.
  • Anti Acid tablets such as Omeprazole and Ranitidine reduce the stomach’s acid and affect the absorption of Vitamin B12.

 

What happens if I don’t get enough Vitamin B12?

A lack of Vitamin B12 can cause the following problems:

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Anaemia
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Balance problems
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Dementia
  • Poor memory
  • Mouth and tongue soreness

 

Vitamin B12 Testing
A simple blood test for Vitamin B12 can ensure that your levels are high enough to protect your nerves, brain and blood cells. If your levels are low, supplements are easily available from your local pharmacy or health-food store.

Photo by Chantal Garnier on Unsplash