Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Signs And Symptoms To Look Out For
B12 is also known as cobalamin and is a water-soluble vitamin. It is essential for normal red blood cell formation and contributes to the normal function of the immune system. As a result, it is often recommended as a supplement for the elderly, who may have a compromised diet.
Food sources of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is found mainly in animal-based foods such as meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese and eggs. It is also found in some fortified breakfast cereals.1
What are the benefits of vitamin B12?
As with most B vitamins, B12 contributes to normal energy metabolism - the process that releases energy from foods.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
Very low B12 intakes can cause anaemia and nervous system damage and vitaminB12 deficiency anaemia occurs when a lack of vitamin B12 causes the body to produce abnormally large red blood cells that can't function properly. These red blood cells carry oxygen around the body using a substance called haemoglobin.
Anaemia is the general term for having either fewer red blood cells than normal or having an abnormally low amount of haemoglobin in each red blood cell. Symptoms can include extreme tiredness, pins and needles (paraesthesia), a sore and red tongue, mouth ulcers, muscle weakness, disturbed vision, psychological problems, which may include depression and confusion.
Vegetarians, vegans and vitamin B12
Because vitamin B12 is found in animal foods, vegetarians and vegans often choose to take a B12 supplement. While most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid anaemia and nervous system damage - the only reliable vegan sources of B12 are foods fortified with B12 including some plant milks, some soy products and some breakfast cereals.2
Knowing when vitamin B12 levels are low
Vitamin B12 is primarily measured through a full blood count – a blood sample is usually taken from a vein in the arm or a finger-prick.
Vitamin B12 supplements
The recommended amount of vitamin B12 is 2.5 micrograms a day for both men and women. Taking a supplement like Seven Seas Perfect7 - which is a blend of Natural Source Fish Oil with Omega-3 plus essential multivitamins and minerals – includes a rich source of vitamin B12. Perfect7’s special formula can be effectively absorbed into your body's cells to support you from the inside as you get older and vitamin B12 supports normal red blood cell formation.