B12 is a powerhouse nutrient. This essential micronutrient carries out vital functions in the body and can take a toll on the body in case of deficiency. So here’s all you need to know about it :

Why is it so important? 

B12 is an important part of B complex vitamin family; it is involved in various essential functions that we usually take for granted:  

  • It helps in the production of DNA and Red blood cells.    
  • It helps in increasing energy levels and keeps lethargy at bay.
  • Decreases stress, fights depression and keeps the brain from shrinking.     
  • Maintains hair, nail and skin. Thus, helps in looking young.
  • Improves concentration, memory and balance, and relieves irritability.                   
  • Necessary for utilization of other major nutrients (fat, protein and carbs).

Deficiency Symptoms:

Deficiency of B12 is extremely common, almost 85% of individuals suffer from it. The deficiency of this vitamin affects every cell in the body. Below are some indicators:

  • Anaemia  
  • Tiredness, sluggishness  
  • Breathlessness  
  • Diarrhoea  
  • Forgetfulness  
  • Paleness of skin  
  • Neuropathy (involving the degeneration of nerve fibre)  
  • Abnormal growth in children 
  • Gastrointestinal Problem  
  • Cardiovascular Diseases  Stroke and heart attack among young people

Are Vegetarian/Vegans are at a higher risk?

B12 haunts vegetarians more. Yes, this is simply because B12 is more available in animal products. So if your diet largely consists of plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, beans, and soy, you're at risk for deficiency. What can be done? Choosing B12 fortified products such as bread and cereal by checking labels or supplements under guidance is an option.

How to correct it?

Since our body does not make it, it is important to consume optimum levels on a daily basis. Vitamin B12 can be increased by taking oral therapy, weekly injections or oral medications. B12 has very low toxicity and high intakes are not thought to be dangerous. After completing the course of the B12 shots or tablets, one should continue taking a multi-vitamin or a B-complex to maintain normal levels. Vitamin B12 levels need to be checked once every year.