Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin essential for red blood cell formation, nervous system health, and energy metabolism. It's unique in containing the metal cobalt and is found naturally in animal products like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy. Vegetarians and vegans may need fortified foods or supplements, as B12 is scarce in plant-based diets....

Vitamin B12

Who would benefit from testing their vitamin B12 levels?

Testing for vitamin B12 levels is especially important for older adults who may have absorption issues, vegetarians and vegans who don’t consume animal products, people with gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s or celiac disease, individuals who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, those diagnosed with pernicious anemia, and people on medications like metformin or acid-reducers that can affect B12 absorption.

What are symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can be varied and may develop gradually, including:

  • Fatigue and Weakness
  • Anemia
  • Numbness and Tingling
  • Balance and Coordination Problems
  • Memory and Cognitive Difficulties
  • Mood Changes
  • Glossitis and Mouth Ulcers

If left untreated, B12 deficiency can lead to severe neurological damage and blood diseases.

What are the best dietary sources of vitamin B12?

The best sources of vitamin B12 are found in animal products, including meats like liver and beef, poultry, fish such as sardines and salmon, shellfish, dairy products, and eggs. For vegetarians and vegans, fortified foods like certain cereals and plant-based milks, as well as supplements, are reliable sources to maintain adequate B12 levels.

What are the benefits of vitamin B12 supplementation?

Vitamin B12 supplementation is beneficial for preventing anemia by aiding red blood cell formation, supporting nerve health, boosting energy levels, and improving mood and cognitive function. It’s also important for heart health by lowering homocysteine levels, a risk factor for heart disease. This is particularly crucial for older adults, vegetarians, vegans, and those with absorption issues, ensuring adequate intake of this essential nutrient. Consulting a healthcare provider before starting supplements is recommended.

Test(s) that measure/test for Vitamin B12

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