Are You vitamin B12 deficient? How important is B12?


The human body requires a wide range of different vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to keep it in good health and functioning correctly. The body utilises each of these chemicals and compounds in different ways, each having a significance on different bodily functions.

One of the most well-known and widely studied of these is vitamin B12. Let’s consider how important is Vitamin B12, what the body needs it for, how you can ensure you are getting enough of it, and some of the signs that could indicate you are vitamin B12 deficient.

What Is Vitamin B12?

Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is a vitamin used by animals for metabolism, including the processing of fatty acids and amino acids. Additionally, B12 is used in the generation of myelin, which is a protective layer that surrounds nerve cells, and in the maintenance of red blood cells found in bone marrow.

Where Is Vitamin B12 Found?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is commonly found in animal products. Good sources of B12 that can be gained through a normal diet include meats, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, and some cereals.

While including some or more of these food groups in your diet is an effective way of upping your vitamin B12 intake, it’s not your only option. Dietary supplements such as those from Nestle Health Science are high in important nutrients including B12 and can be easily incorporated into your diet due to their convenient and accessible design.

A Challenge For Vegans

Because the most common source of vitamin B12 is from animal products, many vegans are concerned that they are vitamin B12 deficient. However, that need not be the case.

The best plant sources of vitamin B12 include yeast extract such as Marmite or Vegemite, mushrooms (particularly shiitake mushrooms), nutritional yeast flakes, plus many other products that are fortified with vitamin B12 such as plant milks, vegan yoghurts and deserts, breakfast cereals and margarine.

Interestingly, it is thought that vitamin B12 from meat is much harder to absorb than B12 in fortified products and supplements.

It is also important to realise that it is not just vegans who can be vitamin B12 deficient; it is a surprisingly common deficiency across all sectors of the public.

But if you are vegan and concerned about ensuring you are eating a healthy diet that provides all the nutrition you need, including vitamin B12, do consider Go Vegan, an excellent book that focuses on health as well as delicious recipes.

What Happens If You Are Vitamin B12 Deficient?

If our bodies are not receiving adequate amounts of all the necessary vitamins and nutrients, we can start to see problems arising. Getting an insufficient amount of vitamin B12 can lead to what is known as vitamin B12 deficiency.

Also known as folate deficiency anaemia, this is a potentially serious condition that can cause a wide range of different symptoms. General anaemia symptoms include things like fatigue, headaches, pale skin, and weight loss. For anaemia caused by a B12 deficiency, sufferers could also experience mouth ulcers, pins and needles, gait issues, vision problems, and cognitive problems.

These symptoms can also be present in people who do not have anaemia but who still have a B12 deficiency.

If left untreated, symptoms of B12 deficiency can get worse, and can even become irreversible in extreme cases. If you are experiencing symptoms of a B12 deficiency, it’s important that you speak to your doctor straight away. There are a number of things that can cause a B12 deficiency, including anaemia, poor diet, and problems with the intestines or the stomach. Your doctor will first need to identify the cause of your deficiency before taking steps to address it.

You can be offered injections to top up your B12 levels and will often be given guidance on how to get more of the vitamin through dietary changes.


Ensuring we are getting all the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need is absolutely crucial. Failure to do so can cause a range of problems and symptoms, some of which will require immediate medical attention. If you are concerned about vitamin B12 deficiency, do consider supplementation, but speak to your health advisor first.



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