Vitamin B12 : Importance, Deficiency Symptoms and Sources

What does Vitamin B12 do and why do we need it?

Vitamin B12 is required for smooth functioning of several critical body processes, maintain the healthy nervous system, make red blood cells as also for production of body’s genetic material, DNA and RNA. Vitamin B12 in combination with Vitamin B9/Folic Acid helps in the production of Red blood cells and with a combination of Vitamin, B9/B6 controls blood levels of amino acid homocysteine, a high level of which can cause heart disease. Vitamin B12 also helps in prevention of megaloblastic anemia, a type of anemia, that makes people feel weak and tired all the time.


What are Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms (can be one or more):

– Fatigue or Weakness
– Anemia
– Difficulty walking
– Swollen, inflamed tongue
– Pale Skin
– Vision loss
– Paranoia or hallucinations
– Constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or gas
– Difficulty thinking and reasoning or memory loss
– Strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs or feet

How much Vitamin B12 do you need and from where do you get?

An average adult needs 2.4 mcg of Vitamin B12 a day. Vitamin B12 cannot be made by the body and hence it can be received only through food or supplements. Major sources of B12 are:

– Shellfish (Cooked Clams)
– Fish (Mackerel)
– Crustaceans (Crab)
– Fortified Soy Products (Silken Tofu)
– Fortified Cereals (All Bran)
– Red Meat
– Low Fat Dairy (Skim Milk)
– Cheese (Swiss)
– Eggs (Chicken)
– Yeast extract Spreads (Marmite)

As most B12 source food products are non-vegetarians, Vegetarians need to take supplements as advised by their Physicians. It’s also a good idea to get your Vitamin B12 checked once in six months to save yourself from any deficiency related illnesses.


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