Vitamin B12, also known as Cobalamin or Methylcobalamin, is one of the most vital vitamins from the B complex group. It is a water soluble vitamin which has a great role to play in the body's metabolism. Vitamin B12 does a lot of things for your body. It helps make your DNA and your red blood cells, for example. It is responsible for good health of both blood cells and nerve cells. It works directly in coordination with your body’s iron stores, and a decrease in any of these can lead to Anemia.
Since your body doesn't make vitamin B12, you have to get it from diet or oral supplements. And you should do that on a regular basis, because your body doesn't store vitamin B12 for a long time.
You can get vitamin B12 in animal foods, which have it naturally, or from items that have been fortified with it. Animal sources of B12 include dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency is becoming a common issue due to poor diet and lifestyle. Low levels of this vitamin in your body is checked by a simple blood test.
Since it’s a water soluble vitamin, it is more prone to being flushed out of the body, without being absorbed. Also with age, it can become harder to absorb this vitamin.
Following are some of the main causes that can contribute to B12 deficiency.
Following a vegan diet
Vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common in vegans as they avoid animal products, including meat, milk, cheese, and eggs and in vegetarians who don't eat enough eggs or dairy products to meet their vitamin B12 needs.
Malabsorption due to certain conditions
Vitamin B12, is more prone to being washed away from the body if it is not absorbed property. Certain medical conditions like, recent surgery, Atrophic gastritis, Pernicious anemia, and conditions that affect small intestine, such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite can interfere with and affect body's ability to absorb this vitamin, leading to sheer deficiency.
A pregnant woman's vitamin needs are more than normal adults since there is increased cell and DNA synthesis. If a woman has B12 deficiency prior to pregnancy, it tends to increase during the pregnancy, which also adversely affects the growth and development of the child.
Heavy intake of alcohol
Alcohol misuse or heavy drinking combined with poor nutrition, can make it harder for your body to absorb nutrients.
Certain medications that interfere with the proper absorption of B12 leading to its deficiency. For instance, the diabetes drug metformin prevents B12 absorption.
Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency
The ultimate treatment to B12 deficiency usually involves taking supplements that may be long term or life long, depending upon the cause. ‘People with conditions causing malabsorption may need B12 to be injected in them.
For women who are planning to conceive a thorough check up and treatment of any deficiency is important before she gets pregnant.
If possible include animal and poultry based foods in diet, or get foods fortified with the vitamin to make for its needs. Also living a healthy Lifestyle with regular exercise and reduced stress will make sure your body doesn't lose its capacity to absorb nutrients from the diet.