Vitamin B-12, 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 B-12 to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA synthesis and carry out other functions. Some people don’t consume enough vitamin B-12 to meet their needs, while others can’t absorb enough, no matter how much they take in. As a result, vitamin B-12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older individuals.
Since the only foods that deliver B-12 are foods from animals such as eggs, poultry, and dairy, strict vegetarians and vegans are at high risk for developing a B-12 deficiency if they don’t eat grains that have been fortified with the vitamin or take a vitamin supplement. Other conditions that interfere with B-12 absorption are celiac disease, Cohn’s disease, prescribed heartburn drugs which reduce acid production in the stomach (acid is needed to absorb vitamin B-12), and Metformin used in Diabetics.
Symptoms of B-12 deficiency:
- Numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs or feet
- Gait and balance problems
- Cognitive difficulties or memory loss
- Fatigue and weakness