Have you recently changed your diet, or are you planning to? Do you want to become vegetarian or vegan? Don’t take it lightly! To make these types of changes in your life and, to keep away from negative consequences on your health, it is essential to inform yourself correctly about the complementary measures that you must take to avoid suffering from vitamin deficiencies, especially B12. Do you know what this vitamin is? The causes and the consequences of B12 deficiency? What food can you get B12 from? When is vitamin B12 low? Here we tell you.
What is vitamin B12 and where to find it?
As explained by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, vitamin B12, like the other B-complex vitamins, aids in protein metabolism, breakdown, and absorption. It also helps the formation of red blood cells and maintains a healthy central nervous system.
This vitamin is usually found in foods of animal origin (beef, milk, eggs, seafood, etc.), so when switching to plant-based diets, we must be especially careful, so we do not end up with a vitamin B12 deficiency.
People who follow this type of diet can find this vitamin in some fortified cereals. But, beyond these cereals, it is very difficult to find B12 when you are vegan or vegetarian. This is why many vegans or vegetarians turn to the use of supplements when they determine that they suffer from a deficiency of this vitamin. Sometimes this happens too late.
How to know if I have a vitamin B12 deficiency
Historically, the levels of B12 in our bodies have been reduced from generation to generation by evolving into much more complete and varied diets. Even following an omnivorous diet, you may already have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
It is estimated that one in ten people suffer from this deficit today. Among the entire population, the most affected are pregnant people, those who follow vegetarian and vegan diets and the elderly.
Today it is very easy to determine if you have this deficiency since there are tests that tell you whether or not you have a vitamin enough B12. You can purchase this test right here, which will also indicate the levels you have in the following vitamins: B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B9 (Folate), B12, C, E and twenty other proteins and amino acids.
Consequences of having vitamin B12 deficiency.
The consequences of having a vitamin B12 deficiency for a long time are many and can be very serious. Among the most common are:
- General tiredness
- Hair loss
- Paleness or discoloration
- Skin diseases such as hyperpigmented knuckles
- Difficulty breathing
When the deficit is too severe, it can even cause neurological damage, generating tingling in the hands and feet, loss of sensitivity in the extremities, muscle weakness, loss of reflexes and even dementia.
However, it is generally identified because it causes general mostly tiredness, which may be linked to anemia, and weakness in those who suffer from it.
Causes of vitamin B12 deficiency.
There are basically two main causes of this deficit. The first is, as we have already named it, insufficient consumption. But there is another: insufficient absorption, or poor storage in the body. The latter can be caused by:
- An uncontrolled bacterial growth in the small intestine
- Celiac disease
- Pancreatic disorders
- Suffering from AIDS
- Exposure to nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
- Use of antacid medication
- Use of metformin
Vitamin B12 is, in any case, a crucial vitamin for the proper functioning of the body. Knowing the causes and consequences of B12 deficiency can be vital. If you think you may have a deficiency or know someone who may be at risk for low B12 levels, we invite you to take a test to determine your B12 levels and take the necessary consequent measures to avoid compromising your health.