Vitamin B12: The key to health and vitality?

Vitamin B12: The key to health and vitality?

October 31, 2023

Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall health and well-being. This essential vitamin is necessary for the proper functioning of our red blood cells, neurological system, and DNA construction.

The role of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it dissolves in water and is readily absorbed by our bodies. It cannot be stored for later use when our bodies need it.

This vitamin is essential for various bodily functions, with its primary role being to support the production and maintenance of red blood cells.

Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout our bodies, providing us with the energy we need every day. Lack of vitamin B12 causes anaemia by reducing red blood cell production in the body.

It's important to note that vitamin B12 and folate (Vitamin B9) are closely related when it comes to red blood cell production. A deficiency in either of these nutrients can lead to a condition called megaloblastic anaemia, in which red blood cells are abnormally large and unable to function properly. To avoid this, it's essential to maintain the right balance of B12 and B9 in your diet.

Absorption of vitamin B12 can be one of the leading causes of deficiencies in our bodies. The stomach typically produces a protein called intrinsic factor, which is necessary for the absorption of this vitamin. However certain conditions can inhibit the body's ability to make intrinsic factor, leading to difficulty in absorbing vitamin B12.

Dietary choices may be another potential cause of vitamin B12 deficiency. People following a vegan diet may lack Vitamin B12. This nutrient is present in animal-based foods like meat, fish, dairy, and eggs, which they don't eat. In such cases, supplementation and fortified foods become essential sources for obtaining adequate vitamin B12.

Furthermore, this vitamin also plays a significant role in the health of our neurological system. It is important for the maintenance of healthy nerve cells and the production of myelin, a substance that covers and protects nerve fibres. If we don't absorb enough vitamins, then some related symptoms, such as tingling, numbness, and memory problems, may arise.

Common symptoms and risks

Recognizing and addressing vitamin B12 deficiency is crucial. If left untreated, it can lead to severe health issues. Here are some common symptoms and risks associated with a deficiency:

  1. Fatigue: Low energy levels and an overall sense of tiredness.
  2. Anaemia: A reduction in red blood cell count, leading to decreased oxygen transport.
  3. Neurological Symptoms: Numbness, tingling, memory problems, and difficulty with balance.
  4. Psychological Problems: Mood swings, depression, and cognitive issues.
  5. Risk of Developing Pernicious Anaemia: A potentially life-threatening condition that affects the body's ability to absorb vitamin B12.
  6. Digestive Issues: Conditions like Crohn's disease, celiac disease, or the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can interfere with vitamin B12 absorption.

Diagnosis and treatment

If you are experiencing symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, it's important to consult a healthcare professional. Diagnosis typically involves a blood test to measure your vitamin B12 level. Depending on the severity of the deficiency, treatment may involve vitamin B12 injections, oral supplements, or dietary adjustments.


In summary, vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for maintaining overall health, as it supports red blood cell production and the proper functioning of the neurological system. While a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a range of physical and psychological problems, it's a condition that can be diagnosed and treated effectively.

To ensure you're getting enough vitamin B12, consider your dietary choices and, if necessary, explore supplements or fortified foods, especially if you follow a vegan diet.

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