Why is it important and what happens when we don’t get enough?
Vitamin B12 keeps the body functioning properly. It is needed to form red blood cells and DNA.
Vitamin B12 is also a key player in the function and development of brain and nerve cells. An adequate supply of B12 – also known as cobalamin – is essential for normal blood formation and neurological function.
What are the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency?
People with a Vitamin B12 deficiency describe feeling lethargic and experiencing an overpowering need to sleep, along with ‘brain fog’ and the feeling that ‘even the simplest task or thought process is beyond me’.
If left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency “can have devastating and sometimes irreversible complications.”
How can you make sure you get enough Vitamin B12?
B12 can be absorbed through food, supplements or via injections. It is found in animal products such as meat, milk or cheese. This means people following a plant-based diet can be susceptible to B12 deficiency.
Apart from people who don’t eat foods containing B12, there are also those whose bodies struggle to absorb the vitamin from foods.
How does the body absorb vitamin B12?
It’s a two-step process. To begin with hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein it’s attached to. Then a protein in the stomach called intrinsic factor combines with the freed B12 and the body absorbs the combination.
Supplements bypass the first step, but still need intrinsic factor to be absorbed, so for the people who aren’t able to produce this stomach protein, their bodies can’t make use of the vitamin B12. People with pernicious anemia can’t make intrinsic factor and so struggle to absorb vitamin B12 from foods and dietary supplements.
When Vitamin B12 levels are restored, people describe feeling more clear-headed, being able to get through the day without needing a nap, and being able to take part in exercise classes again.
Do you worry your B12 levels are low? Do any of the symptoms resonate?
Do you want to feel more energetic and be able to take part in your favourite activities with vigour?