Prevent Vitamin B12 Deficiency - Vitamin B12 Important Facts

by Christabelle Chiam - Date: 2007-02-15 - Word Count: 370 Share This!

Vitamin B12 is essential for life. It helps maintain a healthy nervous system and is vital for production of the body's red blood cells. It is also needed to help make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. If vitamin B12 deficiency occurs, DNA production is disrupted in the bone marrow and abnormal cells called megaloblasts develop. This leads to anemia.

When you have anemia, it means that your body is either not producing enough red blood cells or your existing red blood cells are not able to carry enough oxygen around in the blood stream. Red blood cells have a life span of about four months. Hence, your body needs vitamin B12 to produce new red blood cells and replace the old ones.

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency? Unusual tiredness, breathlessness (Due to reduced amounts of oxygen carried in the body) Feeling faint, looking pale Poor resistance to infection A sore mouth and tongue

If left untreated, Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to nerves problems. Such symptoms include shaky movements and unsteady gait, muscle weakness, confusion and numbness.

What can be done to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency?
The human body stores several years' worth of vitamin B12, so nutritional deficiency of this vitamin is rare. Although vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin, it is not excreted quickly in the urine. And even though the body only needs a small amount of vitamin B12 daily, it is not absorbed very well by the body. Hence, large amounts of the vitamin need to be supplied in the diet in order for the daily minimum to be absorbed.

Vegetarians are most at risk because vitamin B12 is only found in food of animal origin such as meat, liver, poultry, fish and dairy products but not in fruits or vegetables. The elderly are also at risk because a protein found in the stomach is needed to absorb the vitamin from the intestines and this protein production declines with age. About 10-15 percent of adults over 60 have some form of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Because vitamin B12 is only found in food of animal origin, strict vegetarians and people over 55 years of age should consider some form of vitamin B12 supplements to avoid deficiency.

Related Tags: vitamin b12, b12 deficiency vitamin

Did you know that a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in June 2002 concluded that we don't get enough nutrition from our diet alone? It recommends that all adults take a vitamin supplement daily to prevent chronic diseases, including cancer. For a complete nutritional supplementation program to live longer and better, visit

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