Vitamin B12 is a bit of a hot topic at the moment and especially if you have decided to change up your diet and move towards a more plant-based lifestyle, one you are likely to be aware of. Here we’ll talk about why vitamin B12 is so important and how to make sure you’re getting enough.
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, also known as cobalamin, involved in the metabolism of every single cell in the human body. It is particularly important for the normal functioning of the nervous system due to its’ role in the synthesis of myelin – the fatty sheath that coats and protects our nerves and the formation of red blood cells. It is also a co-factor in DNA synthesis and in the metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids – helping us to release energy from our food.
Naturally found in animal products – meat, fish, eggs and dairy, due to its importance for health, some foods are also fortified with B12, such as breakfast cereals, non-dairy milks and yoghurts, nutritional yeast (a common ingredient in vegan foods) and marmite. Other vegan sources of B12 include unwashed organic produce (it is found in the soil), mushrooms, nori seaweed, spirulina and chlorella.
Deficiency can be common, especially for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet and the recommendation is to take a supplement. People over 50 may also need to supplement or be mindful of their intake, because as we age, we naturally produce less stomach acid – this reduces our ability to absorb B12 from our food. Our needs are also increased during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Low levels of B12 can be fairly common and mild symptoms may go unnoticed. Signs of deficiency to look out for include weakness, tiredness, or feeling lightheaded, heart palpitations, a shortness of breath, pale skin, digestive disturbances, nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, loss of vision and cognitive issues such as depression, memory loss, or behavioural changes. Untreated, B12 deficiency can lead to anaemia, nervous system damage, fertility issues, bone and heart disease.
As B12 is non-toxic and water soluble, there is no harm in taking higher levels as the body will only absorb as much as it needs. If you are concerned about your B12 levels, you can ask to get them checked with your GP.
At Get More Vits HQ we are very pleased to announce the launch our brand-new Grapefruit flavoured Vitamin B12 drink, which contains 200% of the recommended RDA, helping more people to Get More Vits and live a healthier lifestyle every day.