Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin that can be found in many different food types. This vitamin is needed for many bodily processes and works by keeping nerves and red blood cells healthy. So what makes Vitamin B12 so important, and how you can get more of it in your diet?
Why You Need Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 has several major roles in the body. It is required to convert carbohydrates into glucose- the process which produces energy. It is also needed to regulate the nervous system throughout the body and maintain a functioning, healthy digestive system. By curbing unhealthy cholesterol levels in the blood stream, Vitamin B12 can protect against heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure.
As Vitamin B12 is needed for cell reproduction and skin renewal, it is important to have high levels of it in the system for healthy skin, hair and nails. Low levels of Vitamin B12 can lead to a number of symptoms such as anaemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, lack of appetite, depression, memory problems, vision problems, sore mouth, asthma and low sperm count. Some studies have even linked Vitamin B12 levels to breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.
Get More B12 in Your Diet
The primary source of Vitamin B12 is most concentrated in animal proteins and fortified vegetarian products. To ensure that your digestive system, energy levels and cell renewal processes are all operating correctly, eating the following food types in moderation will help to ensure your diet is rich in Vitamin B12:
- Fish (especially mackerel)
- Crustaceans (Crayfish Shrimp and Lobster etc)
- Fortified Soy Products
- Fortified Cereals
- Red Meat
People who stick to a vegan diet are most at risk of suffering from a Vitamin B12 deficiency. To get all of the necessary nutrients, vegans are recommended to eat fortified soy or cereal products two to three times a day or take Vitamin B12 supplements. If you are over the age of 50, you may also be more at risk of low levels of the vitamin due to the fact that body absorption slows down with age.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
In some, more serious instances Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anaemia. If this is the case it is important that the condition is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. The majority of anaemia symptoms can be improved with medication, but when left untreated for too long some problems can be irreversible. If you are concerned that you are not getting enough B12 in your diet and are experiencing any of the symptoms listed earlier, you should speak to your GP who may refer you for a blood test.