Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
Are you wondering if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency?
Vitamin B12 is the term for a group of chemical substances called kobalamines. These are essential, because they help to form red blood cells, they contribute to the optimal function of the nervous system, and also help with preventing dementia.
The vitamin is used in, among other things:
- the metabolism of fat and amino acids in protein building blocks
- cell division in red blood cells
- the maintenance and formation of the nervous system
Like other B vitamins, B12 is degraded by water, sunlight, alcohol, estrogen and sleeping pills. Approx. 10% of the vitamin is lost when cooking food by heating it.
As the liver builds a vitamin B12 layer, and as the body recycles the vitamin, it takes many years before developing a deficiency. However, 15% of elderly people, and some vegetarians and vegans, experience deficiencies. In addition, children of vegetarian/vegan mothers have a risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency. This can lead to reduced growth and a lack of mental development.
Vitamin-B12 is not produced in the body, you should get it through your diet. Symptoms of a deficiency are:
- a red and irritated tongue
- a reduced sense of taste
- digestive problems, which can include gassiness and a change in stools
- reduced sensitivity and vibratatory sense
- fatigue, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing and dizziness.
In severe cases, you will experience angina, headaches and pain in the legs. Over time, the condition may develop into difficulty with walking and coordination, with spastic paralysis. In addition, you may experience mental problems, depression, dementia and failing memory. However, some will experience symptoms in their nervous system very quickly. At worst, a deficiency will end in the anemia disease: megaloblastic anemia, where the precursors of the red blood cells swell up.
Get the right amount of supplements:
B12 is produced from bacteria and therefore can not be obtained through plants or yeast. The easiest way to get the B12 you need is through lean meat, dairy products, eggs and fish. Vegetarians and vegans must therefore receive it via food supplements or fortified foods. While taking supplements, the recommended dose for adults is 2 mg, and while breastfeeding, women should have 2.6 mg. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor about a B12, iron or folic acid deficiency.
Recommended daily dosage:
Women: 2 mg (2.6 mg for breastfeeding women)
Men: 2 mg.
Check if your needs are being met for vitamin B12 and other important supplements with our vitamin test, and get a personalised package that will cover your needs. Take our test here.