How Do I Know if I’m Vitamin B12 Deficient?

Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin that is essential for your body’s nervous system, metabolism, and energy. The body requires vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA, and to carry out cellular functions. The most important function of vitamin B12 is the enhancement of growth and replication of cells in the body. It is important for the connection between the brain and spine to communicate with the rest of the body. 

The average adult should get approximately 2.4 micrograms per day. However, vitamin B12, like many other vitamins, is not made by the body. It only comes from food or supplements. 

There are many symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, so individuals often have a difficult time identifying their symptoms as rooting from a lack of B12. 

Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency to look out for include: 

  • Weak muscles 
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet 
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of energy 
  • Fatigue 
  • Irritability 
  • Cognitive difficulties and weight loss
  • Increased heart rate 

People at Risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency: 

  • Those that follow a vegetarian or vegan diet

Plants do not make vitamin B12. It can only be found in food sources that come from animals, including meat, eggs, poultry, dairy, and other animal products. People who are vegetarian or vegan should regularly take a vegan B12 supplement

  • People who undergo weight loss surgery 

A deficiency in B12 is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies that present itself after weight loss surgery, most commonly, gastric bypass surgery.  This weight loss operation typically interferes with the ability to extract B12 from food, so it is important for individuals who undergo this surgery to have frequent laboratory monitoring post surgery. 

  • People with medical conditions that interfere with nutrient absorption such as celiac disease

Celiacs often experience micronutrient deficiencies particularly in iron, folic acid, vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin B12. The common B12 deficiency trajectory may be due in part to the area of the small intestine and stomach that gluten can damage. Conditions such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, can prevent the body from fully absorbing vitamin  B12. 

  • People who often use heartburn drugs

Some studies have found a link between heartburn medication and a heightened risk of B12 deficiency. Heartburn medications reduce the amount of acid production in the stomach, however, blocking stomach acid can also block B12 absorption. Overall, studies suggest that taking antacids frequently can lead to malabsorption of vitamin B12. 


Is It Possible to Prevent Vitamin B12 Deficiency? 

Many people are able to prevent a deficiency in vitamin B12 by consuming foods and drinks that contain vitamin B12. This can be done by adjusting the diet to try to boost the amount of B12 consumed. 

Vitamin B12 is most prevalent in organ meat foods such as liver or kidney. It is highly concentrated in seafood and fish, including mussels, clams, tuna and sardines. There is also a sufficient amount of vitamin B12 in eggs, poultry and dairy products. For vegetarians and vegans, fortified nutritional yeast and nut milks do contain vitamin B12. However, a daily vegan B12 supplement is a great option to ensure that vegans and vegetarians are getting an adequate amount of B12 daily. A daily supplement is often recommended to anyone following a plant based diet, to ensure that they don’t end up at risk of developing a B12 deficiency. If you dislike swallowing vitamin pills and want to avoid the calorie and sugar content in most gummy vitamins, oral sprays, specifically Can-i Boost for focus and energy is a great source of vitamin B12.

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