Vitamin B12 performs two critical roles in the body – it helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA; the genetic material in all cells. It is little wonder having low B12 levels can cause the body to malfunction. The symptoms of which can show up in numerous areas of the body.
Am I at risk of B12 deficiency?
There are two leading causes of B12 deficiency – diet and pernicious anaemia.
Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune condition that prevents the body from making intrinsic factor – a protein made by the stomach and needed to absorb vitamin B12 in the intestine.
According to the NHS, pernicious anaemia is the leading cause of B12 deficiency in the UK.
Those following a strict vegan or vegetarian diet are also at a higher risk of B12 deficiency.
There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:
“If your vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by a lack of the vitamin in your diet, you may be prescribed vitamin B12 tablets to take every day between meals,” explains the NHS.
As the health body explains, people who find it difficult to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets, such as those following a vegan diet, may need vitamin B12 tablets for life.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, or are looking for alternatives to meat and dairy products, there are some B12 sources.
Yeast extract (including Marmite), as well as some fortified breakfast cereals and soy products, explains the NHS.