B12 is the celebrity of the vitamin B family, and with it being so important in helping our bodies to form red blood cells, produce DNA, and maintain a nervous system that’s healthy, it’s easy to see why. Sometimes referred to as an energy vitamin for our bodies, B12 can help us feel less tired, have more energy, and feel brainier too!
Not everyone will have a vitamin B12 deficiency, but scientists and medical professionals agree that factors such as diet and stress, can contribute towards lower levels of Vitamin B12 in the body. If you’re a vegan, for example, you may well be deficient as the vitamin is most commonly found in fish, meat, dairy products and eggs.
Worried about your vitamin B12 levels as an older person or vegan? Unsure as to how you can even tell if you’re deficient? Here is a short guide to the show-stopping vitamin, and how it can help restore your energy levels:
What can cause a deficiency in vitamin B12?
Experts state that there are a number of causes for being deficient in vitamin B13, such as diet and age. Plant-based diets aren’t rich in this important vitamin, while as we age, our B12 absorption rate declines, leaving us feeling permanently tired.
These two causes aside, though, the primary cause of a deficiency in vitamin B12 is something called pernicious anaemia; an autoimmune condition. Pernicious anaemia makes your immune system attack cells present in your stomach that produce something called IF, or intrinsic factor, which normally allow vitamin absorption into the small intestine. Also, as we get older, our bodies produce less IF, making B12 deficiencies more prevalent in more mature age groups.
How can you tell if you’ve got a vitamin B12 deficiency?
While vitamin B12 isn’t needed by the body in large amounts, it is water soluble and so stores of it do need to be regularly replenished.
If your stores of vitamin B12 are running low, here’s what symptoms you may experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Numbness and tingling
- Brain fog
- Fluctuations in mood
- Hair loss
- Paleness of skin
- Weight loss
What can you do to find out if you’re B12 deficient?
A simple, standard blood test performed by a medical professional will tell you what your B12 numbers are, while a test that’s more sensitive, such as MCV and homocysteine can give you a more detailed answer.
What can you do to boost your levels of vitamin B12?
There are three things you can do to successfully boost your levels of vitamin B12:
- Consume foods rich in Vitamin B12
It’s recommended by the government that those of us between the ages of 19 and 50, consume a minimum of 1.5ug of vitamin B12 on a daily basis, but it’s important to recognise that such official recommendations don’t take into account individual health concerns or socioeconomics, for example.
However, if you want to increase or maintain your levels of this important vitamin, you can do so by consuming meats, oil-rich fish, cheese, yoghurt, milk and other dairy products. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, look for foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12, such as cereal.
- B12 supplements
If you are a strict vegan, you may want to support your overall health and wellbeing by taking a multivitamin of 500 mcg that gives you all of your daily B vitamin requirements, including B12.
- B12 injections
Combatting a B12 deficiency is simple with medically approved B12 shots. As well as offering you a much-needed boost of energy, they can also help to improve your immune system, which in turn, can help your entire body feel better.
For any concerns related to a vitamin B12 deficiency that you might have, or simply to know more about it, always get your questions answered by a medical professional.