Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin also known as Cobalamin. This vitamin is getting a little more notoriety in the medical community as it is being recognized for its importance in the body. It is an essential vitamin required by all the systems of the body, including red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, and metabolism, and when there isn’t enough the symptoms that present can be life altering. One of the most obvious symptoms with a B12 deficiency is fatigue, as this can be related to a type of anemia. Other symptoms you could encounter are: weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss, as well as neurological changes. Those would present as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, balance issues, depression or confusion, and poor memory, which can also be considered mental health factors.
Higher risk populations tend to be elderly, individuals with pernicious anemia, GI disorders, have had GI surgery, or vegetarians. However, that doesn’t mean that anyone at any age cannot be affected.
The body is innately intelligent and when consuming B12 it will absorb small amounts at a time that is can use and get rid of the rest. So there is currently no risk of overdoing B12. It has not been shown to interfere with any medications, however there are some meds that will interfere with its absorption. Those would include Metformin (used with diabetics), Proton Pump Inhibitors/PPI’s that reduce stomach acid, antacids and some histamine blockers. Many of these can also affect Folate absorption, another B vitamin, which B12 also needs to function properly. An interesting fact is that taking a lot of folic acid can actually cover the symptoms of a B12 deficiency. However, even though the symptoms are covered the damage is still occurring.
You can find B12 in animal products including fish, eggs, and dairy. The highest amounts are found in liver and clams, which may not sound too appetizing for many people. You can also see why vegetarians tend to be affected by a B12 deficiency more often. Many foods are fortified with the vitamin, however those also tend to be processed foods.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed and in particular feeling fatigued your doctor can actually test your B12 levels to give you some guidance if this might be an issue for you. As with any supplementation it is important to consult a medical professional.
Warm Wishes and Best Health to you all.