What is vitamin B12 and what does it do?
B12 is a vitamin that contributes to keeping the body’d nervous system and blood cess healthy. It also helps to make DNA which is the genetic make-up of all cells. People who have a lack of Vitamin B12 can become anaemic, leaving them feeling tired and weak and lacking in energy.
People can lack B12 in their bodies if they either don’t eat enough in their diet, or if their body fails to absorb the B12 in their foods.
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, then it can be hard to keep your levels up without eating foods that have been enriched with Vitamin B12.
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 eating enough Vitamins and minerals in their diet, and other people may not be absorbing them well enough. Certain people may be at higher risk:
- Older people do not have as much 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 to have it given by injection from their doctor.
- If you have had any stomach surgery then that can decrease your potential to absorb this vitamin sufficiently.
- Vegetarians and vegans may lack in this because vitamin B12 is only found in animal products.
- 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:
- Loss of appetitie
- Weight loss
- Numbness and tingling
- Balance problems
- Poor memory
- Mouth and tongue soreness
Vitamin B12 Testing
A simple blood test can test for vitamin B12 and make sure that your levels are high enough to protect your nerves and brain and the blood cells.