You've probably heard about vitamin B12 more than once. Maybe you don't eat meat or eat only a little of it and someone has mentioned that you may be at risk for a deficiency of this vitamin. Or maybe you suffer from anemia and your doctor has suggested that it may be the result of a poor diet and too low a supply of vitamin B12? You have to read the rest of this article in such a case.
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is more precisely called cobalamin, a compound belonging to the group of B vitamins. It performs a significant function in the human body, protecting the circulatory and nervous systems. It participates in the synthesis of serotonin, which as a neurotransmitter is responsible for the mental state of our body. Often, serotonin deficiencies can be the cause of vitamin B12 deficiencies, as it contributes to the development of depressive states. Vitamin B12 is also extremely important for physically active people because it is responsible for the production of red blood cells.
Causes of vitamin B12 deficiency
Often, intestinal diseases, and therefore poor bacterial flora, can cause problems with the storage and absorption of vitamin B12. Another example could also be a problem with too high (alkaline) pH in the stomach, which causes a deficiency of gastric juices, and secondary flora problems that can result in vitamin B12 deficiency.
Also, obese people who have undergone bariatric surgery are particularly vulnerable to vitamin B12 deficiency. In connection with such surgery, the area of vitamin B12 absorption is much smaller, and the residence time of food in the gastrointestinal tract, much shorter. This can result in insufficient digestion of eaten food by food enzymes.
Autoimmune diseases, as well as hypothyroidism, can also cause vitamin B12 deficiency.
Effects of vitamin B12 deficiency
According to the results of studies, conducted by researchers, vitamin B12 deficiency may contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease. Patients very often suffer from elevated homocysteine levels, which, as you already know, can be an indicator of vitamin B12 deficiency.
At first, vitamin B12 deficiency may be confused with other diseases. You should be concerned if you have recently noticed in yourself symptoms like fatigue, sluggishness, tiredness, shortness of breath, increased heart rate.
Often people suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency notice cheilosis located in the corners of the mouth, headaches, and dizziness. Acne problems, rashes, and hair loss are also signals to get your vitamin B12 levels checked.
Sources of vitamin B12
The best sources of this vitamin are animal products such as eggs, milk, dairy, and meat, especially offal. This is because the production of the vitamin is done by bacteria living in the digestive system of animals.
Non-animal sources include food yeast and fermented soybeans in the form of thick miso paste, as well as mushrooms. A large number of products specifically designed for people on a vegetarian diet are fortified with vitamin B12, such as breakfast cereals.
How to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency?
What to do to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency? First and foremost, vary your diet with foods rich in vitamin B12. However, if you have an intestinal disorder or other condition that prevents you from getting an adequate dose of this vitamin from food, you should consult a specialist about proper Vitamin B12 supplementation.
The daily requirement of vitamin B12
The daily requirement for healthy people without deficiency is 2 micrograms in an adult, 2.2 micrograms in a pregnant woman, and 2.6 micrograms for a nursing woman.
Effective vitamin B12 supplementation
However, if you do decide to supplement vitamin B12, keep a few rules in mind so that the supplementation is effective and the absorption of vitamin B12 is as high as possible.