Feeling tired all the time? Memory not what it used to be? Struggling to complete physical tasks that you used to normally take in your stride? You could have a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and milk products. Vegetarian and vegan sources of vitamin B-12 are e.g. fortified cereals, plant milks, bread, and nutritional yeast.
What does vitamin B12 do?
All vitamins are crucial to our wellbeing but Vitamin B12 ( cobalamin ) deserves particular attention.
Together with Vitamin B9 ( folic acid / folate ) it produces healthy red blood cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia. Without enough red blood cells, your tissues and organs don’t get enough oxygen. Without enough oxygen, your body can’t function properly.
Vitamin B12 is essential for the proper functioning and development of the brain and nerve cells and is particularly important for concentration, learning, memory and reasoning.
Folate and vitamin B12 play very important roles in brain development, especially during pregnancy and the first 2 years of your baby’s life. Vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies in foetal & early life can cause poor brain development or cognitive functions. The neurological problems caused by vitamin B12 deficiency later in life are due to the damage caused to the myelin sheath of the nerves.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause various neurological and psychiatric problems – from neuropathy to dementia in the elderly. In extreme cases deficiency (known as pernicious anaemia) can cause severe nerve damage.
Do I have a Vitamin B12 deficiency ?
If you become anemic due to a B12 deficiency, you could feel short of breath, dizzy, tired and weak – especially when you exert yourself. This is because your body isn’t able to produce enough red blood cells to effectively transport oxygen throughout your body.
One of the more serious side effects of a long-term B12 deficiency is nerve damage. If untreated, the damage to your nervous system caused by a B12 deficiency could cause changes to the way you walk and move. It may even affect your balance and coordination, making you more prone to falling.
Did you know that low levels of B12 have been linked to mood and brain disorders like depression and dementia?
You’re at risk of deficiency if you don’t get enough from your diet or aren’t able to absorb enough from the food you eat. Our ability to absorb vitamins from food decreases as we get older: this is why mature athletes have greater requirements than their younger counterparts do.
Signs and symptoms of a deficiency :
- Lack of energy or tiring easily (fatigue)
- Nausea / Decreased appetite / Weight loss
- Brain fog and memory problems
- Weakness / pins and needles in the hands or feet
- A fast heart rate
- An unsteady walk
- Temporary infertility
- Pregnancy complications and birth defects
- In young children symptoms include poor growth, poor development and difficulties with movement
- Pale or yellowish skin
- An early sign of B12 deficiency may be a red, swollen and tender tongue or mouth ulcers
- Blurred or disturbed vision
Various studies have shown that cobalamin / Vit B12 deficiency is more common in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and various conditions causing dementia.
Who needs a Vitamin B12 supplement ?
- Pregnant and breastfeeding ladies – essential for both mum and baby.
- Vegetarians and Vegans – who may have restricted B12 intake due to diet.
- The elderly (over 60’s). Older people produce less hydrochloric acid, reducing their absorption of vitamin B12 that results in a deficiency.
- Athletes or those with an active lifestyle – especially those following a strict diet.
- Those on the drug Metformin / Glucophage for Diabetes and/or PCOS.
- Those with Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis / IBD or Coeliac Disease.
- Those taking long-term antacid drugs for heartburn eg proton-pump inhibitors.
- Those who’ve had surgery that removes the part of the bowel that absorbs B12.
Unfortunately, symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to show up, and diagnosing it can be complex. A B12 deficiency can sometimes be mistaken for a folate deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is an important water-soluble vitamin. If the deficiency due to diet then the proper and timely supplementation could prevent damage to the nervous system.
Vitamin B12 and Vegetarian and Vegan diets
Some people have chosen to remove certain foods from their diets for a variety of reasons.
Vitamin B12 is found in meat, fish, and eggs and dairy – often eliminated by vegetarians and vegans from their diets.
Avoiding foods that contain gluten can also mean skipping vital nutrients, e.g. vitamin B12, folic acid and iron leading to a range of deficiencies.
Disregarding some foods seen to be unethical / unhealthy / unnatural could mean a lack of nutrients, e.g. vitamin B12 with serious consequences for your health and you may be struggling to get enough through a healthy diet as Vitamin B12 is notoriously hard to absorb through the gut.
Vit B12 Supplements
BetterYou Boost Vit B12 oral spray uses methylcobalamin (the naturally active form) meaning it is processed faster by the body than most other forms found in supplements.
This revolutionary Vitamin B12 supplement is sprayed under the tongue or inside your cheek. Quickly enters the bloodstream for immediate absorption. 4 sprays a day is all you need for an adult and 2 sprays a day for under 12’s
It’s fast, convenient and has a great tasting apricot flavour.<