Vitamin B12 deficiency and how to prevent it

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Lots of people are deficient in vitamin B12 and they don’t even know it. It’s critical to keep your B12 levels topped up as it’s vitally important for your health. Among the many other things, B12 helps to make DNA and red blood cells. Since our bodies don’t produce B12, it’s up to us to make sure we’re getting enough of it from our diets and supplements. Before looking at some foods rich in B12, let’s consider some of the symptoms of B12 deficiency, which can manifest itself in a variety of ways. It’s important to correct a B12 deficiency before it does irreversible damage to your health.

B12 deficiency commonly causes eye problems, for example age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. This condition distorts your vision so that straight lines look crooked, objects appear smaller than they actually are, and colors appear brighter. It can even cause you to see things that don’t exist.

Here are some other signs and symptoms of B12 deficiency:

  • Canker sores
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness or tingling in your extremities
  • Mood swings and other personality changes
  • Confusion and memory problems
  • Pale or yellow skin

If you’re experiencing any of the above problems, make and appointment with your doctor and tell him or her that you’d like to have your B12 levels tested.

Of course, prevention is the best policy. As I said, it’s up to you to ensure you’re getting enough B12. You’re in control, so there’s no excuse for letting your levels drop, assuming you have ready access to healthy nutritious food.

Foods commonly known to be rich in vitamin B12 include eggs, dairy products, fortified foods like breakfast cereal, and meat and shellfish.

But you’re vegan, you say? No problem. Below are five vegan foods that contain substantial amounts of vitamin B12, courtesy of International Business Times:

  • Cheese seaweed crisps
  • Yeast extract
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Fortified cereals (e.g. bran flakes)
  • Tempeh

You should also talk to your doctor about taking B12 supplements, especially if you do not include any animal products in your diet. Fortunately B12 is a very safe vitamin to supplement, and rarely results in overdose or toxicity. In any event, a little too much B12 is better than not enough.