Vitamin B12 is often referred to as the big brother of all of B Vitamins; vital for human functioning but all too often overlooked for more trendy vitamins. Vitamin B12 ensures proper functioning of the nervous system as well as playing an important role in the formation of red blood cells and functioning of the metabolism.
Not only does B12 do all of those incredible things inside of your body it actually changes how you feel, if you’ve ever had a period of weeks or months where you felt tired or fuzzy headed then it could well have been the case that you were deficient in B12. Particularly important for those over 50, are vulnerable to B12 deficiency simply due to having difficulties absorbing the vitamin into their systems naturally.
Who is at risk of B12 deficiency?
B12 is unique from other vitamins in the fact that it is pretty much only absorbed from one food type; animal products. Meat, eggs, dairy and seafood are rich in B12 which is great news for the omnivores amongst us, but not so great for vegetarians and vegans.
In fact, vegetarians and vegans make up a significant proportion of people at risk of B12 deficiency, along with pregnant and lactating women and people aged 50 or above. This is because these people have a much harder time absorbing the B12 vitamin. People with ongoing illness or diseases are can also be at high risk of B12 deficiency.
B12 deficiency: What to look out for
It’s little wonder that the key symptom of B12 deficiency should be anaemia. B12 deficiency with or without a diagnosis of anaemia may leave the sufferer feeling weak, fatigued or lightheaded. Sufferers often experience heart palpitations or shortness of breath. Another key symptom is the loss of appetite resulting in weight loss, and often a sore mouth or tongue.
Less common symptoms may be tingling in the feet and hands, irritability and depression, and some sufferers experience diarrhoea whilst others report constipation. B12 is also correlated with psychological and behavioural problems and if left untreated for too long, neurological damage.
To ensure you are taking in adequate levels of vitamin B12, seek out meat, eggs, dairy and fish. Other B vitamin superfoods should also round out your diet for optimum health, such as chickpeas, whole cereals, soy products, watermelon and spinach.
For the full low down of symptoms, causes, diagnosis and B12 sources check out this great infographic: