- Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells, nerve cells, and DNA. Adults and teenagers only require 2.4 micrograms daily, a modest amount that many of us may not fulfill.
- People on a plant-based diet, those with conditions like Crohn’s disease, individuals over 50, and people on certain medications are at a higher risk of B12 deficiency, as B12 primarily comes from animal products.
- Symptoms of B12 deficiency can develop slowly or occur suddenly, and include emotional or cognitive issues, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, constipation, and numbness or tingling in extremities. A simple blood test can diagnose this deficiency.
- For people avoiding animal products, B12 levels can be increased through fortified soy foods or cereal grain products, or through a multivitamin supplement. In severe cases, a B12 injection may be necessary.
- It’s important to inform healthcare professionals of any medications currently taken when recommending B12 supplementation to avoid harmful interactions.
In our pursuit of optimal health and nutrition, Vitamin B12 is sometimes not given the attention it rightly deserves. A crucial component needed for the production of red blood cells, nerve cells, DNA and many other crucial bodily processes, B12’s significance should not be underestimated.
Adults and teenagers only require 2.4 micrograms of B12 daily, but, surprisingly, many of us may not meet even this modest quota.
Identifying High Risk Groups for B12 deficiency
Some individuals are more at risk of a B12 shortage than others. Notably, if you subscribe to a plant-based diet, your risk significantly increases as the principal sources of B12 come from animal products such as meat and dairy.
Your chance of B12 deficiency escalates if your body struggles with nutrient absorption due to conditions like Crohn’s disease or if you have undergone bariatric surgery. Certain medications also affect your B12 levels. Furthermore, individuals over 50 are riskier due to alterations in stomach acids.
Common medications that influence B12 in your body include:
1. PPIs (e.g., omeprazole, lansoprazole), utilized for heartburn or GERD treatment.
2. H2 receptor antagonists (e.g., famotidine, ranitidine), also applied for similar conditions.
3. The diabetes drug, Metformin.
Beware of B12 Deficiency Symptoms
A B12 deficiency can develop over an extended period or manifest abruptly. Possible signs of deficiency include emotional or cognitive issues, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, constipation, and numbness or tingling in extremities. Such symptoms could indicate a multitude of conditions, but diagnosing a B12 deficiency is as simple as conducting a blood test.
Enhancing Your B12 Levels
For those who avoid animal products, B12 can be boosted through fortified soy foods or cereal grain products. A multivitamin supplement will provide an adequate amount unless the deficiency is severe. In cases of serious deficiency, your doctor might administer a B12 injection to quickly increase your levels to normal.
Ensure the healthcare professional recommending B12 supplementation is aware of any medications you’re currently taking to prevent harmful interactions.
Should you desire more in-depth information on Vitamin B12, including how much you should be getting daily and the optimal sources, please visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s informative Vitamin B12 page.