As you may already know, the vitamin B complex is made up of 8 vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12). Like the other vitamins, vitamin B12 is water-soluble , which means that it dissolves in water to travel through our body.
This vitamin is crucial to ensure the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. Vitamin B12 is also involved in the formation of red blood cells (they could not multiply without it) and help regulate the DNA. It is also believed that this vitamin can contribute to fight conditions such as osteoporosis, depression, and help you increase your energy levels (Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-benefits).
Where can we find it?
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal-based products such as beef, pork, turkey, fish, ham, milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs. Also, today some food items such as bread, soy milk, and breakfast cereals are fortified with this vitamin (source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219822.php#deficiency-symptoms).
And how do I know if I am not getting the necessary dose of this vitamin?
An average adult needs to take at least 2.64 mcg of vitamin B12 daily. A balanced diet covers this amount without major problems, but this does not happen in all cases. For some reason or another, some people do not cover the minimum amounts of vitamins in their diet, while other people have trouble absorbing the necessary amount even when the person keeps a balanced diet.
Which groups have the highest risk of suffering from this deficiency?
Adults over 50 years of age, people undergoing diabetes treatment, pregnant women, celiacs, people with gastritis and inflamed colon, are especially at risk of suffering from this deficiency and must keep an eye on their B12 intake. It is also important to know that people who follow a strictly vegan diet do not receive enough vitamin B12 because it comes basically from animal products (Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin- b12-deficiency-can-be-sneaky-harmful-201301105780).
Some of the signs that will help you discover if you have vitamin B12 deficiency are:
1. Pale skin or a yellowish tone, because of a decrease in the production of red blood cells.
2. Tiredness, dizziness, and lack of oxygen, the decrease in red blood cells makes it difficult to transport oxygen throughout the body.
3. A sensation of pins & needles in the skin, due to nerve damage caused by the low production of myelin.
4. Mood swings, which can lead to depressive episodes, due to the decline in brain functions.
5. More serious symptoms include changes in the way you walk, balance and even vision problems since neuronal damage affects the nerves responsible for these functions.
And what can we do about it?
Primarily, you should make sure you keep a balanced diet that includes the necessary foods to maintain optimal levels of vitamin B12. If you belong to one of the risk groups, you have some of the symptoms, or some other condition that could affect your levels, you should make sure you take supplements that help you obtain these nutrients.