Do you have a vitamin B12 deficiency?
by Floris Biesemans on Feb 17, 2023
Functions of vitamin B12Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, has several important functions in the body. Here are some of the functions of vitamin B12:
- DNA synthesis: Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the synthesis of DNA, the genetic material that contains all of the body's cells. It is essential for the healthy development and function of cells and tissues.
- Red blood cell formation: Vitamin B12 is also important for the production of red blood cells, which transport oxygen through the body. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia.
- Nervous system: Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy nervous system. It plays a role in the production of myelin, a substance that protects nerve cells and ensures rapid transmission of nerve impulses.
- Homocysteine metabolism: Vitamin B12, along with folic acid, is involved in the metabolism of homocysteine, an amino acid that at high levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiencyA vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Fatigue and weakness: A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to fatigue and weakness because the body cannot produce enough red blood cells to transport oxygen through the body.
- Anemia: A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, a condition in which the body does not have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen.
- Neurological symptoms: Vitamin B12 is important for a healthy nervous system, so a deficiency can lead to neurological symptoms such as tingling in the hands and feet, coordination problems, muscle weakness and memory problems.
- Digestive problems: People with vitamin B12 deficiency may experience digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea and loss of appetite.
- Mood and cognitive problems: Some studies suggest that vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to mood and cognitive problems, including difficulty concentrating, depression and anxiety.
Groups at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency
- Elderly people: As people age, the absorption of vitamin B12 decreases. This is because stomach acid production decreases, which is needed to extract the vitamin from food. Therefore, older people have an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Vegans and vegetarians: Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Vegans and vegetarians who do not eat these foods are at increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
- People with conditions such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease may have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 into their bodies.
- Some medications, such as metformin (used for diabetes) and proton pump inhibitors (used for heartburn problems), can reduce vitamin B12 absorption and increase the risk of deficiency.
Vitamin B12 nutritionVitamin B12 is naturally found only in animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese. Therefore, it is important for vegetarians and vegans to pay extra attention to their vitamin B12 intake. However, there are some plant-based foods that are fortified with vitamin B12, such as some breakfast cereals and soy milk. For people who have difficulty getting enough vitamin B12 from their diet, dietary supplements are also available. One example is GIMMY's focus gummies. Designed specifically to improve concentration and focus, these gummies are a convenient and tasty way to get enough vitamin B12.
Curious about our solution for concentration problems? Be sure to read this blog