Vitamin B12 is the micronutrient power house of your body. Without vitamin B12 it is like trying to drive your car without gas. Vitamin B12 is the power house for many functions in our bodies. As we get older it becomes more challenging to absorb this very important nutrient. However, there are many other conditions to pay attention to that interfere with our bodies getting what we need from the food we eat. Such as, gastritis, anemia, Crohn’s or Celiac disease and Immune system disorders like Graves and Lupus.
Vegan’s also have to be very careful that their way of living does not create vitamin B12 deficiency. Being that they do not eat meat or meat products. They need to eat food fortified in B12 and possibly take supplements.
If you have a deficiency you could feel week and tired. You could experience heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Your skin can pale and you could experience stomach discomfort such as constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite or gas. Nerve problems like muscle weakness and problems walking. Vision loss or blurred vision is also common. Lastly mental health problem like depression, memory loss or behaviorally changes.
This is a very preventable deficiency in the sense that if you eat well, whole food like meat, poultry, seafood, diary and eggs you should get enough from what you consume. However, if you are vegan then eating food fortified in B12 is very important. Lastly, if you have an absorption issues because of a diagnosed medical condition it is important to receive B12 shots for some time and then begin a regiment of supplements.
Most symptoms will disappear once you bring your B12 levels up. This may take time and needs to be done with doctor supervision. It is very important to get blood work done regularly and above all continue to eat a balanced diet even when taking supplements.
Stacie A. Zamperini M.Ed.