Vitamin B12 – What you need to know about it

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 (scientific name: cobalamin) is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for the normal functioning of the body. It is one of eight B vitamins and is needed to make DNA, cells, and neurotransmitters.

The body cannot produce vitamin B12, so it must be obtained through food or supplements. The best food sources are animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy.

What function does it perform in the body?

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that helps maintain healthy nerve cells and produce DNA. It contributes to a robust immune system, improves memory and brain function, supports cell growth, and supports healthy cellular metabolism. It also helps maintain normal iron levels in your body.

Vitamin B12 is also important for fat metabolism. Without it, certain fatty acids cannot be broken down and converted into energy. This can lead to lack of energy, weight loss, and anemia.

What are sources of vitamin B12

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There are a variety of foods that contain vitamin B12, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of it in your diet. The list of food sources of vitamin B12 includes animal products such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and dairy.

Some other foods that are rich in vitamin B12 and are also suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets:

  • Tempeh (made from soybeans)
  • Nutritional yeast (a type of yeast that is also a good source of protein)
  • fortified cereal grains, and
  • different types of seaweed.

Small amounts of vitamin B12 are also said to provide fermented products such as sauerkraut or beer.

What causes an increased need for vitamin B12?

The increased need for vitamin B12 is often caused by malnutrition or certain diets. A vegan diet can trigger vitamin B12 deficiency if it does not include vitamin B12-rich foods or supplements. Vegetarians have it a little easier because they can fall back on eggs and dairy products.

Pregnant women are advised to take a vitamin B12 supplement, as their body needs more of it during pregnancy.

Symptoms and diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency

Energy from food. A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia, fatigue or weight loss.

You may be deficient in vitamin B12 if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Shortness
  • A sore mouth or tongue
  • Pale skin and brittle nails
  • A rapid heart rate

Of course, there are a variety of diseases and deficits that trigger exactly these signs.

You can determine whether you really have a vitamin B12 deficiency with a urine test at home. However, this type of test is not very accurate. If you suspect a vitamin B12 deficiency, it is better to ask your doctor for a blood test to have your vitamin B12 level determined in the laboratory.

Risks of too much vitamin B12

The following are some of the risks associated with too much vitamin B12:

  • Nausea
  • Itch
  • Vertigo
  • Headache
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Weakness or fatigue

Drug interactions

There are some medications that can affect vitamin B12 levels. Always read the medication leaflet carefully.

How much vitamin B12 is enough?

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin B12 in healthy adults is 4 micrograms for men and women, according to the DGE, women should consume between 4.5 and 5.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

It’s important to note that with a vegan diet, your body needs more of this vitamin than it otherwise needs, as it can’t be obtained from plant sources alone.

Other benefits of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is also important for healthy skin and hair. It helps in the production of keratin, a protein that makes up our hair, nails and skin. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause hair loss, as well as dry skin and brittle nails.

Vitamin B12 can also improve mood, especially if someone suffers from depression. Studies have shown that people with low vitamin B12 levels are more likely to be depressed than people with an adequate amount of this vitamin in their bodies.

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