Vitamin B12, also known as ‘Cobalamin’, is one of the eight very important B vitamins in your blood. Many of its functions are essential to life and avoid any major health implications. Any deficiencies certainly need to be addressed.
It plays an important role in the formation of healthy blood cells, provides sufficient energy and regulates homocysteine levels. These levels must be kept at normal, and not allowed to go high, which can occur. With inadequate supply of B12 in the blood, it can cause your level of homocysteine to get too high, which can have quite serious consequences. One of the dangers and concerns of a high level of this specific modified illness is that of heart attacks and strokes.
The older you get, the more likely it is to incur high homocysteine levels, and the best way to control this is by increasing the Vitamin B12 in your blood, usually in the form of supplementation by your medical professional.
How do I know if I am low in Vitamin B12
Your body will definitely show signals or signs of the need to top up the amount of B12 in your body. Some of the symptoms are:
- Significant weakness or fatigue for no particular reason i.e. no over-exertion or similar
- Headaches – likely to occur more frequently
- Skin pallour – pale, sometimes almost greyish or yellow, including the whites of the eyes. This is a sign of anaemia, which must be treated relatively quickly. This type of discolouration is normally a pointer towards you having inadequate, healthy red blood cells in your system.
- Confusion, inability to think and impaired cognitive skills, can all be attributed to low Vitamin B12.
- Potential gastrointestinal symptoms (such as constipation, diarrhoea, cramps, nausea, but there could be many other reasons for these symptoms).
- Depressive bouts
- Problems in the mouth and tongue – sores, redness, swelling, overall discomfort, can be connected to Vitamin B deficiency, but also other illnesses
- Tingling, burning sensation mostly in hands and feet, but again, this could be connected to other illnesses, such as diabetes
The above symptoms are the ones that should make you think about having a blood test, if you see any of the signs which are not part of an existing condition you may have and that you do not recognise. As almost all vitamins play a major part in our health overall, it could be time to consider a full test of many elements in your blood, such as the Ultimate Health Test which is available here. Among other diagnostics, you will get a comprehensive breakdown of the essential vitamins which are included in the test.
How else does Vitamin B12 help or bodies?
Vitamin B12 helps in almost all of our bodies, keeping us in the best possible health and with a strong immune system (unless you have other problems). It gives us energy and is effective in both nerve and cell development.
This vitamin also acts as a ‘metaboliser’, converting fats, carbs and protein to enable them to be absorbed into the blood, thereby providing us with valuable nutrients.
Vitamin B12 also plays a part in keeping brain cells healthy. If you are rich in this really helpful vitamin, you will potentially suffer less from any stress or anxiety.
Foods rich in Vitamin B
If you want your body to be rich in Vitamin B12, you will have to learn to love offal! Offal is a huge source of this vitamin, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There are other sources such as certain shellfish, but once again, potentially not on your normal shopping list. Oysters and clams are two of the most proficient at providing Vitamin B12. The type of dishes you will have heard of are liver and bacon, or steak and kidney pie, which you will know are fairly traditional, or variations of, throughout Europe and also Australasia. However, not so common in other countries such as the US, even though ‘trad’ British dishes are becoming more popular.
Eggs, most types of red meat and fish will give you a reasonable amount of your daily requirements, but not as much as offal, for instance. Milk, yoghurt and cheese can also go towards your daily count. Medical professionals and haematologists recommend a consumption level of around 1.5mcg (micrograms) for the average adult. To give you an idea, if you ate 1 pot of yoghurt, you would need consume a further 5 pots to achieve this level of Vitamin B12.
Being a little more cheerful, if you have a balanced diet, you should be able to keep your Vitamin B12 level at the required amount for it to function properly within your body.
The main concern would be if you are strict vegetarian or vegan. You could be at risk, with the lack of consumption of dairy, and/or meat and fish. This is where fortified plant-based milks come into action, and any spreads you use that are fortified. Some cereals may also help.
If a product is fortified, it must say on the outside of the packet, so do check and get the maximum amount of protection by including these versions of B12 in your diet, whilst still following the principles of the food that you eat.
If your digestion is in any form compromised, you could run the risk of low Vitamin B levels, so it would be wise to check your full blood count regularly.