Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of our nervous system and red blood cells, and generally helps us to stay healthy. However, despite the importance of this vitamin, many people can struggle to get enough B12 in their diets, causing a 'vitamin b12 deficiency'.
In this article, we will explore vitamin b12's role in our overall health, foods that it can be found in (as well as our easy and simple solution at Nourished), and what a b12 deficiency can lead to if left unchecked.
What is Vitamin B12, and what causes B12 deficiency?
Vitamin B12 (or Cobalamin as it's known by its chemical compound name) is required to help the body produce healthy red blood cells, aid the production of DNA and help us stay healthy [i]. Vitamin B12 is found in a variety of animal products, including meat, fish, dairy and certain fortified food such as fortified cereals.
While it's possible to get enough of this vitamin from a balanced diet, some people can be at risk of a vitamin b12 deficiency due to a variety of different reasons. These can include poor absorption in the body, certain medical conditions and consuming food sources that are absent of the compound. Deficiency can also be more common with individuals following a vegan or vegetarian diet.
NHS England states that a reduction in vitamin b12 can result in a vitamin b12 deficiency (or Anaemia). This can cause a variety of issues, as listed on their site here [ix], including:
- Memory loss
- Vision problems
- Damage to the nervous system
- Temporary infertility
- And much more.
A vitamin b12 deficiency may also result in the body producing abnormally large red blood cells, which can't function properly and mean that fewer healthy red blood cells may circulate in the body [viii].
How is vitamin b12 absorbed? Hydrochloric acid and Intrinsic factor!
After consuming vitamin b12 (either through food sources or supplementation), the absorption process can be broken down into two stages.
During the first phase, vitamin b12 is separated from the protein that it's attached to due to hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Once this is separated, a protein called intrinsic factor is then combined with vitamin b12, which the body absorbs together [ii].
The first stage is only required when vitamin b12 is consumed through food sources, as b12 dietary supplements are not already attached to proteins. However, the second step is still required [ii].
It's important to highlight that certain medical conditions can affect the intrinsic factor process of vitamin b12 absorption [ii]. If you are concerned about your vitamin b12 levels or a potential b12 deficiency, then please seek advice from your local GP.
You can also learn more about how gummy nutrients can aid absorption levels, compared to more traditional pills and dietary supplements, on the link here.
The health benefits of Vitamin B12
Aiding the production of healthy red blood cells
This B vitamin can have a role in cell division [iv] as well as the fact it is proven to contribute to normal red blood cell formation.
Red blood cells play a vital role in transporting oxygen throughout the body. Therefore, the formation of new red blood cells is essential for the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, which impacts overall health [v].
Vitamin b12 is also important as it can aid DNA synthesis by helping to ensure the stability of important regions of the chromosomes [iii].
Reducing tiredness and fatigue
Vitamin B12 contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism. This can be extremely important to how you function properly on a daily basis. This is due to how it affects your energy expenditure and can reduce tiredness and fatigue [vi].
How Vitamin B12 can contribute to normal psychological function and keep the nervous system healthy
Vitamin B12 contributes to normal psychological function and contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system. This means that this essential vitamin can impact our learning abilities, memory, reasoning, our resistance to stress and more.
Immune system support
Vitamin B12 contributes to the normal function of the immune system, which is essential to defending the body from infections and keeping us healthy [vii].
If you would like to read more about vitamins that can aid the immune system, then click here to learn about vitamin D3.
What fortified foods, vegetables and supplements contain Vitamin B12?
When it comes to ways of consuming vitamin b12, you can get this from a variety of vegetables, fortified foods and even with your very own Nourished Nutrient Gummies.
These foods include:
- Meat, including red meat
- Fish, including tuna and cooked salmon
- Dairy products, including some fortified non-dairy milk (please also note that most non-dairy milk, such as soy milk, don't usually contain b12)
- Fortified foods, such as some fortified breakfast cereals and fortified nutritional yeast
As a lot of b12 consumption comes from animal foods, it can be hard to incorporate this into a vegan or vegetarian diet.
When it comes to dietary supplements of vitamin b12, Nourished has you covered. We have developed a patented gummy formulation which enables us to combine 7 scientifically-backed ingredients in high doses (including vitamin b12).
Our intelligent algorithmic quiz allows you to take a short online consultation and receive a personalised recommendation of 7 scientifically-backed ingredients, all contained in a single, convenient nutrient gummy.
You can even create your own gummy nutrient directly from our 'Lab'. With a choice of over 35 ingredients, 9 delicious flavours, and 2 coatings, the possibilities are almost endless!
Our daily gummies are freshly 3D-printed, suitable for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, and delivered straight to your doorstep. If you want to learn more about why we 3D-print our gummies, you can read more on the link here.
To discover more about which stack is best suited to your lifestyle, self-care goals, and body, take the Nourished quiz now.
Want to learn more about Nourished and vitamin b12 deficiency?
To find out more about the effects of a vitamin b12 deficiency, the many foods that contain it, as well as the research and studies mentioned in this article about b vitamins, then please click the links listed below or visit the website research page here.
You can also read another one of the Nourished blogs on the link here.
- [i] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b12/
- [ii] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/
- [iii] https://www.frontiersin.org/10.3389/conf.fphar.2010.60.00140/event_abstract
- [iv] https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1223
- [v] https://medlineplus.gov/ency/anatomyvideos/000104.htm
- [vi] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/energy-metabolism
- [vii] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/immune-system.
- [viii] https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/nutritional/vitamin-b12-or-folate-deficiency-anaemia
- [ix] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamin-b12-or-folate-deficiency-anaemia/complications/