There’s no doubt about it; vitamin B12 is vital for maintaining good health. And a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause serious health problems.
But what exactly is vitamin B12, where is it found, and why do you need it? Let’s take a look…
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 makes red blood cells, DNA and nerves – and it has several other important jobs. Without it, your body produces fewer blood cells – and the ones it does produce will be oversized and have a short life.
Why is vitamin B12 so important?
Why is it important to produce red blood cells? Well, if your body doesn’t produce enough, your vital organs and tissues won’t get enough oxygen. This can lead to anaemia.
When you have anaemia, you can feel incredibly tired, suffer from headaches and appetite loss, and have a sore mouth. You could also appear jaundiced with yellow skin or eye whites, and even experience pain or numbness in your limbs.
An article in the New England Journal of Medicine also found that in one case, a lack of vitamin B12 can lead to delusions, memory loss, paranoia and a loss of smell and taste.
But that’s not all. A vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause depression, heart problems, and issues with movement, focus and coordination. And if left untreated, the deficiency can led to irreversible brain and nerve damage.
How much vitamin B12 do I need?
Originally published on Aug 22, 2014
In Australia, it’s recommended that adults have around 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 each day. That’s not a huge amount, but it is enough to ward off a deficiency.
Chances are, if you follow a healthy eating plan, you will get enough vitamin B12 for your diet. This is important, since the body can’t produce its own vitamin B12 reserves.
To boost your intake, eat red meat, cheese and eggs. For this reason, vegans and vegetarians are at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency. They may need to eat more yeast products and foods fortified with the vitamin.
To ensure you’re getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet, consult your health professional – a nutritionist, naturopath or dietician.