Everything about Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 deficiency is very common nowadays. Most of the people are deficient without even realising it. Deficiency of vitamin B12 affects our lives more than we realise. Though everyone talks about it, not many know about this vitamin. Read on to understand this vitamin.
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a part of B complex group of vitamins. Like all other B vitamins, vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin. It is the largest and most structurally complicated vitamin. It is naturally found in animal-based food products. Many other food products are fortified with this vitamin.
Functions of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 does a lot of things for your body like:
- It helps make your DNA.
- Helps in the synthesis of red blood cells.
- It provides support to the body’s neurological functions.
- It is required for folic acid absorption.
- It helps release energy for cell functioning.
- It is required for the formation of proteins and lipids.
- Improves mood.
- It protects brain health.
See, vitamin B12 is such an important vitamin for your body. Imagine what would the deficiency of this vitamin do to your body. Look out for the symptoms and get yourself checked regularly.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Mood swings
- Sleepiness during the day
- Pale skin
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Digestive problems
- Smooth tongue
- Numbness or tingling sensations
These are a few of the symptoms that you should look out for.
Why do you get vitamin B12 deficiency?
Vitamin B12 is required in very small quantities by your body. An average adult needs only 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12. Still many are deficient in this vitamin. Why?
Following are the causes of vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Pernicious anaemia. This is the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency. It is an auto-immune condition caused by a lack of a protein called intrinsic factor that’s needed to absorb vitamin B12 from food.
- Stomach ulcers
- Bariatric surgery
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac disease or gluten intolerance
- Thinning of the stomach lining
- Some medicines
Malabsorption is a major cause of vitamin B12 deficiency. Having a healthy intestinal flora is very important for proper absorption of vitamin B12. A bad lifestyle affects the intestinal flora negatively. When your meal times and sleep are erratic, the digestion is the first thing to get affected. Once the digestion is affected, the absorption of vitamins and minerals get negatively affected. So a healthy lifestyle is a must for the proper absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Sources of vitamin B12
- Fortified foods
Vitamin B12 is majorly found in animal-based foods. So does this mean that vegetarians are doomed t be deficient? The answer is Yes and No.
Yes, because there are not many vegetarian sources of this vitamin.
No, because you can include curd in your everyday diet for a dose of vitamin B12. You can also have fortified foods like fortified breakfast cereals in your diet. In consultation with your doctor, you can take supplements for vitamin B12.
Vegans need to be more careful as they don’t even consume dairy. They should reach out for fortified almond, coconut and soy milk. They may also require supplementation.
I am sure that now there is clarity on vitamin B12. Keep an eye on the symptoms and go for regular checkups. You will be good 🙂