by Deb Garbutt, Manager, Foodsmiths Natural Bodycare
Vegetarians and Vegans can have B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 is the common name for a nutrient known scientifically as methylcobalamin. Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin essential for your overall health, but especially for production of red blood cells and genetic materials DNA and RNA. In addition B12 is needed for energy production and nervous system function. It helps support memory and learning, controls homocysteine levels, promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, enhances immune system function, and effectively supports the brain.
Vitamin B12 is not made in the body. It comes from animal-based foods like meat, fish, and dairy, or from supplements. It needs to be consumed on a regular basis. Vitamin B12 is absorbed when the stomach’s hydrochloric acid breaks the bond between Vitamin B12 and protein. B12 is then absorbed into the body after it combines with a protein called the intrinsic factor.
B12 deficiency can be caused by a number of things, including atrophic gastritis, or thinning of the stomach lining, pernicious anemia, which makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamin B12, bariatric surgery, Crohn's disease, Celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite, heavy alcohol consumption, immune disease such as Grave’s or Lupus, long-term use of acid-reducing drugs, or poorly balanced vegetarian/vegan diets. As well, B12 deficiency increases with age. Symptoms of B12 deficiency can be a general weakness, heart palpitations, pale skin, smooth tongue, constipation or diarrhea, loss of appetite, nerve problems such as tingling and muscle weakness, vision loss, depression, memory loss and behavioural changes.