Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin needed for blood formation, nerve and brain function. Your body doesn’t make vitamin B12, you have to get it from animal-based foods or from supplements.
This should be done on a regular basis as your body doesn’t store vitamin B12 for a long time.
The older you get the harder it becomes to absorb this vitamin.
YOU MAY BE MORE LIKELY TO DEVELOP VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY IF YOU HAVE:
1. Atrophic gastritis (where your stomach lining has thinned)
2. If your have pernicious anemia, which makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamin B12
3. If you have conditions that may affect your small intestine (Crohn’s disease, celiac disease)
4. If you have Immune system disorders
5. If you follow a vegan diet (ie: no animal products, including meat, milk, cheese, and eggs)
6. If you are a vegetarian that doesn’t eat enough eggs or dairy products to meet your vitamin B12 needs.
7. If you have been taking certain medications that interfere with the absorption of B12.
SYMPTOMS OF A VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY INCLUDE:
– Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
– Constant fatigue
– Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
– Very pale skin
– A smooth tongue
– Constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or gas
– Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness
– Dizziness or issues associated with vision
– Mental problems like depression, memory loss, behavioural changes or simply quite forgetful
– Elevated homocysteine level
– Frequent unexplained pins and needles and ‘shock wave’ feelings
DIETARY SOURCES OF THIS NUTRIENT CAN BE FOUND IN:
• Organ meats, especially red meat
• Fish, seafood
• Eggs and dairy products
(All animal protein will have some B12)
TIPS TO PREVENT DEPLETION:
• Limit alcohol intake
• Add black pepper – The piperine in black pepper aids absorption of all nutrients
• Cranberries have been shown to help increase B12 uptake but this is when eaten with food containing B12.
• Take a supplement (especially if you don’t eat animal protein) such as Methylcobalamin which is the active, coenzyme form of Vitamin B12.