Vitamin B12 is essential for several vital functions of the body. Its role is significant in many functions of the body, such as:
- DNA production and repair: DNA is basically the body’s blueprint. As vitamin B12 is essential to DNA production and repair, B12 deficiency can lead to serious complications.
- Synthesis of haemoglobin: Vitamin B12 is needed for synthesis of haemoglobin (the protein which helps to carry oxygen in blood). If there is inadequate haemoglobin in your blood, it causes anaemia.
- Proper neural production and communication: B12 is needed for formation of neurons in the brain, and for communication between them. B12 deficiency causes damage to the nerve cells and impairs the brain’s ability to function properly.
- Metabolism: B12 helps in metabolism, i.e. it helps to turn the food you eat into energy. Without the right amount of B12 in the body, metabolism is affected.
Vitamin B12 deficiency has nonspecific symptoms in most cases and this makes diagnosis very difficult. In many cases, B12 deficiency symptoms are mistaken for another illness. Deficiency of this essential nutrient can cause a variety of symptoms and serious complications if not treated appropriately and timely.
[Read: Symptoms of B12 Deficiency]
Tips to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency
- Avoid excessive alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to gastritis and damage to the lining of the intestines. These can interfere with vitamin B12 absorption. If you have B12 deficiency due to alcoholism, quitting it may prevent further impairment of B12 absorption.
- Take your supplements: Vegetarian food is deficient in vitamin B12. People who don't eat animal products or have a medical condition that limits the absorption of nutrients, should take a B12-containing multivitamin, according to experts. A daily supplement of 5mcg to 10 mcg is adequate to prevent deficiency of this vitamin. Besides this you may include breakfast cereal, soy foods (soy milk and tofu) and other foods fortified with vitamin B12. If you consume dairy products (cow's milk and yogurt :natural sources of vitamin B12) you can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency
- Include vitamin B6 in your diet: Vitamin B6 helps in proper absorption and storage of vitamin B12. According to health experts, include foods rich in the vitamins such as spinach, walnuts, poultry, avocados, bananas and brown rice in your diet to prevent vitamin B6 deficiency.
- Include animal based foods: If you are not a vegetarian, you can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by consuming the required amount of meat, poultry, seafood, milk, cheese, and eggs to supplement the vitamin. Seafood, such as shrimp, scallops and fish such as snapper, halibut and salmon, are also rich in this vitamin.
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