Sunday, 10 Dec 2023

What is vitamin B12 and what are deficiency symptoms?

If you’ve ever done some tentative research into going plant-based, you’ve likely heard of Vitamin B12.

And with people becoming more health-conscious post-pandemic, it’s good to know what vitamins you should be spending your money on and which are a waste of time and – given the cost of living crisis – a waste of money. 

Plus, with the colder months fast-approaching, we’re looking for any way we can keep our immunity up.

Here’s everything to know about nifty vitamin.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is responsible for keeping our blood and nerve cells healthy.

According to Richard Mortimer, supplement expert at Nutrimuscle: ‘It plays an essential role in creating red blood cells, which can help support the transportation of iron and oxygen around the body.’

He tells that Vitamin B12 can also contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system, ‘which may help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in the body.’ 

Vitamin B12 helps to boost energy and even promotes healthier skin, he adds. 

‘It may also improve mood and support bone health,’ Richard says, especially as we get older. 

‘As we age, bone density can decline, resulting in weak and brittle bones,’ he explains. 

‘Vitamin B12 can help to support bone mineral density and prevent this decline from happening.’

Who needs Vitamin B12 the most and how much should be consumed?  

Although adults aged between 19 and 64 need around 1.5 micrograms of B12 a day, most people can get this through their diet.

‘Foods rich in Vitamin B12 include eggs, yoghurt, salmon, beef, shellfish, and fortified cereal,’ says Richard.

But, as Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal products, he adds, ‘vegetarians or those following a plant-based diet may experience symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and may wish to consider taking supplements.’

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency:

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anaemia, but you may have some of these symptoms before it gets to that point:

  • a pale yellow tinge to your skin
  • a sore and red tongue (glossitis)
  • mouth ulcers
  • pins and needles (paraesthesia)
  • changes in the way that you walk and move around
  • disturbed vision
  • irritability
  • depression
  • changes in the way you think, feel and behave
  • a decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement (dementia)

Symptoms of anaemia include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • lack of energy (lethargy)
  • breathlessness
  • feeling faint
  • headaches
  • pale skin
  • noticeable heartbeats (palpitations)
  • hearing sounds coming from inside the body, rather than from an outside source (tinnitus)
  • loss of appetite and weight loss

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