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Vitamin B12 – Health Benefits, Food Sources and Deficiency Risks

by Samhita Vitta on August 8, 2020 at 12:51 PM
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Vitamin B12 – Health Benefits, Food Sources and Deficiency Risks

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin. It is also known as cobalamin. It plays key roles in maintaining health. The body cannot produce vitamin B12 and deficiency of vitamin B12 will lead to problems.


Benefits of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 has essential functions in the body.
  • Aids in formation of red blood cells (RBCs). Prevents a type of anemia known as megaloblastic anemia, which makes people weak and tired
  • Helps to keep brain and nerves healthy
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Improves the health of the heart by reducing an amino acid, homocysteine. Homocysteine is linked to an increased risk of heart disease
  • Helps reduce depression by manufacturing serotonin, a mood-enhancing chemical
  • Prevent age related macular degeneration
  • Reduces risk of birth defects and plays a key role in healthy pregnancy
  • Supports bone health
  • Energy booster
  • Promotes healthy skin, nails and hair
Effects of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Pale looking skin
  • Reduced appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Megaloblastic anemia
  • Mouth ulcers and glossitis
  • Blurry vision
  • Nerve issues
  • Confusion
  • Mood changes and depression
Risk Factors of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can generally be avoided by eating healthy. However, some people are at a higher risk.
  • Elders
  • Diabetic people under metformin drug
  • Weight loss surgery patients
  • People with strict vegan diet
  • People taking medications for Crohn's disease
Vitamin B12 Rich Foods

Animal foods are rich in vitamin B12.
  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Beef liver
  • Dairy products
Plant-based foods do not contain cobalamin unless they are fortified. Breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts contain fortified vitamin B12.

Check the label of the food to know if the food contains fortified vitamin B12.

Recommended Levels of Vitamin B12

Number of factors such as age, eating habits and health conditions play a role in determining the amount of vitamin B12 required daily.

Taking higher amounts of vitamin B12 is generally considered safe.

Vitamin B12 can interact with certain medications like chloramphenicol, metformin, vitamin C supplements, aminosalicylic acid etc.

In rare cases, high levels of vitamin B12 can result in dizziness, headache, anxiety, nausea, and vomiting.

Overall, vitamin B12 is key nutrient that maintains many crucial functions in the body. It is necessary to make sure the adequate amount of vitamin B12 is consumed.

Source: Medindia

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