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You should know if you are getting enough of vitamin B12, since it is vital to stay healthy. Vitamin B12 is one such vitamin that does a lot of things for your body. Mainly vitamin B12 is responsible for making the DNA and the red blood cells of the body. The important aspect is that vitamin B12 is not produced by the body naturally and your body should get if from animal based foods or supplements. The supply of vitamin B12 should be regular again because the body cannot store vitamin B12 by itself for long periods.

How much vitamin B12 is needed?

The quantity of vitamin B12 required by the body for its normal functioning depends on varieties of factors like the age, eating habits, medical conditions and whether you are taking any type of medications etc. Usually babies between the age of 7- 12 months may need 0.5 micrograms of vitamin B12, whereas a child of 9-13 years may need 1.8 mcg and an adult 2.4 mcg.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

It is observed that with age it becomes really harder to absorb vitamins. If you have had a weight loss surgery or any other surgery that reduced your stomach then absorption of vitamin is again impaired. If you drink heavily or if you’ve taken acid- reducing medications for a long time it will cause problem in absorbing vitamins.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is also seen in those with gastritis, where the stomach lining gets thinned. Chronic anaemia is another reason for vitamin B12 deficiency. Conditions that affect small intestine like celiac disease or bacterial growth can affect vitamin B12 absorption. Immune system disorders like lupus can also be a reason. Deficiency occurs when your diet is purely vegan where you don’t eat any animal product or you are a vegetarian and you don’t eat enough of eggs or dairy products to meet your B12 needs.

Pregnancy & B12 Deficiency

A pregnant woman on a vegetarian or vegan diet has to be extra cautious about the required B12 levels. A normal level of B12 is an absolute necessity for an expectant mother and even after delivery if you are breast feeding the infant a healthy level of B12 is required for both your health and the baby’s health. If you lack B12 the bay will have problems in its development and will not grow normally. So, pregnant and lactating mothers have to be extra careful about their levels of vitamin B12.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency

Some of the main symptoms associated with B12 deficiency are weakness, tiredness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, pale skin, constipation, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, nerve problems, muscle weakness, vision loss, mental depression,  memory loss and behaviour changes. The person will also show symptoms of being anaemic.

How to prevent B12 deficiency?

You can prevent the onset of B12 deficiency by eating enough meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products. If you restrict or don’t eat animal products you can go in for multivitamin tablets, supplements and foods fortified with vitamin B12. It is always better to consult your doctor before taking any food supplement especially if you are on other medication.

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