Vitamin B12 is a vital vitamin for the body as it’s needed to create red blood cells and maintain the function of the brain and nervous system. A lack of the vitamin can affect the production of red blood cells, triggering symptoms such as tiredness, shortness of breath or heart palpitations. In more severe cases vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to complications such as problems with the nervous system, temporary infertility, heart conditions, pregnancy complications and birth defects.
Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in foods of animal origin, but there are also some non animal products that contain added vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in foods of animal origin, but there are also some non animal products that contain added vitamin B12.
London North West Healthcare lists sources of vitamin B12 – here are five:
- Milk – all types of milk contain vitamin B12, but boiling can destroy vitamin B12 so it’s important to consume milk that hasn’t been boiled. A 200ml glass of milk every day is enough to meet the vitamin B12 requirement.
- Bran flakes
- Dairy free sunflower spread
Who is most at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency?
The NHS Trusts explains who’s most at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
It says: “Vegans and vegetarians consuming limited dairy produce have a higher risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency due to limited dietary intakes.
“The elderly population and people taking metformin for a long time can also be at increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency due to vitamin B12 not being absorbed properly in the body.”
If you consume very little vitamin B12 foods you may be advised to take a vitamin B12 supplement.
This may be the case for pregnant or breast feeding women and vegan or vegetarians.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
Recognising the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency is important if you want to avoid complications developing.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are listed by Bupa as:
- Feeling very tried
- Breathlessness even after little exercise
- Heart palpitations
- A reduced appetite
- A sore mouth and tongue
One symptom which could occur in someone with a vitamin B12 deficiency is loss of smell.
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