Vitamin B12 also known as cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin that is commonly found in a variety of foods, such as fish, shellfish, meat, eggs, and dairy products.
The human body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA synthesis and carry out other functions. Some people don’t consume enough vitamin B12 to meet their needs, while others can’t absorb enough, no matter how much they take in. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older individuals.
Since the only foods that deliver B12 are foods from animals such as eggs, poultry, and dairy, strict vegetarians and vegans are at high risk for developing a B12 deficiency if they don’t eat grains that have been fortified with the vitamin or take a vitamin supplement. Other conditions that interfere with B12 absorption are celiac disease, Cohn’s disease, prescribed heartburn drugs which reduce acid production in the stomach (acid is needed to absorb vitamin B12), and Metformin used in Diabetics.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency:
- numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs or feet
- gait and balance problems
- cognitive difficulties, or memory loss
- fatigue and weakness