Vegans are regularly advised to mind
their levels of vitamin B12, but vegetarians and even meat eaters often
come up short on this important nutrient, which helps keep nerves and
blood cells healthy. In this informative Q&A—and in the video below—
Dr. Sofia Pineda Ochoa goes deep on where vitamin B12 comes from, why we need it, and how to ensure we’re getting enough.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are fairly non-specific, and can include fatigue, weakness, lightheadedness, and loss of appetite. Shortness of breath, numbness, and memory problems can also occur. The wide-ranging and imprecise nature of these symptoms underscores the importance of being proactive in avoiding this vitamin deficiency. > ppens if B12 deficiency is overlooked or ignored?
Because vitamin B12 helps in the formation of nucleotides (genetic material), a deficiency can impair our normal production of DNA. This can first manifest as difficulty with the normal production of red blood cells, and can result in anemia. It can also result in problems with the maintenance of the nervous system, causing a wide variety of neuropsychiatric symptoms. > uld take a supplement or get tested?
Given the prevalence of deficiencies in the general population, regardless of one’s diet, everyone should monitor their vitamin B12 status or take a supplement (or both). This is a deficiency that’s usually easy for a medical professional to identify and treat. Fe with no known deficiency, a blood test including vitamin B12 levels at your annual physical is normally appropriate. Keep in mind that vitamin B12 can be stored in the liver for a few years and keep our blood levels high, even if we are no longer absorbing or consuming enough of it. Aable to further evaluate and diagnose a suspected B12 deficiency include methyl malonic acid and homocysteine levels (both of which are usually elevated when there is a B12 deficiency).
Vitamin B12 is an important and necessary nutrient. However,