Cyano Cobalamin is the elaborate name for vitamin B12. What many people don’t know is how important B12 is for our body to function properly. Many people take vitamin deficiencies with a grain of salt but not getting enough B12 can have detrimental effects on your health.
Why is it so important?
Vitamin B12 is vital for normal neurological and blood functioning – both extremely important for good health and longevity! It is necessary, along with folate, for DNA synthesis. A longstanding deficiency can lead to serious health consequences.
Deficiency – easily masked
Vitamin B12 can be stored in the body for many years which can make it difficult to tell if someone is deficient. This is because the vitamin can be released from the body’s tissues even whilst a person is deficient – the release can mask the deficiency by making blood levels appear within a normal range.
Your stomach releases a protein called intrinsic factor. Your body needs to make enough of this for vitamin B12 to be absorbed adequately. There are some conditions that impact the intrinsic factor and therefore will lead to a B12 deficiency.
B12 deficiency is also classified as a type of anaemia. This is because it affects the function of red blood cells – your body needs B12 in order to make red blood cells. Unfortunately symptoms may be mild or non-existent at all. Many of the symptoms are actually very similar to iron deficiency anaemia.
Symptoms of B12 anaemia:
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Pale skin
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen tongue or gums
- Heart palpitations
A long term deficiency can lead to nerve damage. If treatment is not started soon enough, permanent damage may result. The symptoms of nerve damage include:
- Confusion or dementia
- Difficulty with balance
- Numb or tingling extremities e.g. hand and feet
- Visual disturbances
Where does vitamin B12 come from?
Vitamin B12 comes almost exclusively from animal products and products that are fortified with the vitamin. This means that some vegetarians and many vegans can be at risk of a deficiency if they are not careful with their dietary choices or taking a supplement. Sources include:
- Meat, fish and poultry
- Dairy products e.g. yoghurt, milk, cheese
- B12 fortified products e.g. vegemite, vegetarian products like sausages
- Soy products
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have questions about healthy eating, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today!