Vitamin B12 Deficiency: What You Need to Know

By Marcus Clarke

March 1, 2018   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

vitamin b12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 is essential to the human body. It has an incredibly important role in your central nervous system as it ensures the health of your nerves and blood cell. It plays a huge role in the production of DNA, too.

Because of its functions, it’s highly important that you get enough of this vitamin, whether through your diet or by taking supplements. If you do not get enough vitamin B12, then your blood cells will not be able to function properly. This can cause anemia. Although it isn’t always a medical emergency, you still need to take it seriously.

Where to Find Vitamin B12

A healthy adult should consume 2.4 mcg of the vitamin a day. Good sources include meat, eggs, and fish.

Vegans and vegetarians may find it harder to get enough of the vitamin because of their diet. So, finding supplements with the right dosage can help. You can also eat foods fortified with B12, such as soy milk.

vitamin b12 rich food

Risk Factors for Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Given the fact that vitamin B12 is so important, you are probably wondering what can cause its deficiency.

Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Maintaining a vegan diet
  • Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease and immune system disorders
  • Having pernicious Anaemia– This leads to low levels of intrinsic factor, which in turn leads to trouble absorbing b12 from food
  • Being over 50– People over 50 years old produce less stomach acid which is key for b12 absorption.

Vitamin b12 deficiency is actually relatively hard to detect. In some cases, it can remain undetected for years.

However, if you suspect that you may be at risk of developing a b12 deficiency, then you may want to be tested. This is particularly true if you are experiencing any symptoms, such as:

vitamin b12 deficiencies

  • Fatigue
  • A lack of appetite
  • Feeling faint

Getting Diagnosed and Treated

To be properly diagnosed, you may have to undergo a number of tests and examinations, like routine complete blood count. After being diagnosed, you may need to make dietary changes and take vitamin supplements. It can either be in the form of a tablet or a shot, depending on your condition and its cause.

Failure to get treated can result in a number of complications. You can end up with depression, megaloblastic anemia, and progressive nerve damage. There is also mounting evidence that low levels of b12 can actually increase your likelihood of developing Dementia.

To find out more about the causes, the symptoms, and the forms of treatment for b12 deficiency, check out the infographic below.

b12 supplements guide

Marcus Clarke

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