Despite its importance for the health, it is often misunderstood. Here are some good to know facts about it.
1. It cannot be made by the body. Thus, you can only get it from your diet or through supplementation.
It cannot be found in plant foods unless they are fortified, though. It can only be found in animal foods and products, such as meat, clams, eggs, and milk.
Thus, vegans may be at risk of not having enough levels of it in their bodies.
2. It is needed for the formation of red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to cells throughout the body.
Moreover, not having sufficient levels of Vitamin B12 is associated with pernicious anemia.
People who have pernicious anemia are not able to produce intrinsic factor, which is needed for the absorption of the vitamin.
3. It is needed for the maintenance of the nervous system. This is because it is essential for the building of myelin sheaths, which protect the nerves from getting damaged.
In fact, deficiency of the vitamin may lead to irreversible nerve damage.
4. People who take PPIs (proton-pump inhibitors) and metformin are at risk of having deficiency of the vitamin because they affect control stomach acid production; sufficient levels of stomach acid are needed for the absorption of the vitamin.
PPIs are prescribed to treat stomach ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), while metformin is prescribed to treat diabetes.
5. The elderly are also at risk of not having sufficient levels of the vitamin, which may be caused by their decreased ability to absorb it and their diet.
6. The common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include swollen and inflamed tongue, weakness, fatigue, tingling and numbness of the hands and feet, and memory loss.
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