Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system as well as the formation of blood. It is a water soluble vitamin that is involved in the metabolism in every cell. It aslo affects DNA synthesis, and also fatty acid synthesis and energy production. Structurally it is considered the most complicated of all the vitamins. The body requires very little of Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, and normal diets do have sufficient quantities. Hence deficiency is rare.
Vegetarians are more likely to have a deficiency of Vitamin B12, as vegetables do not contain much of this vital vitamin. They can always take supplements, and these are considered safe, as after effects from an overdose are almost unknown.
Symptoms of deficiency in vitamin B12 are manifest in a type of anemia that can make the person feel weak, lethargic, nauseous, constipated and flatulent. There may also be significant loss of appetite and weight loss. The person with the deficiency may also suffer from numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, suffer from insomnia and loss of memory, a lack of balance caused by dizziness, depression, or even liver enlargement. There could also be eye problems, headaches, ringing in the ears and other neurological damage.
Vitamin B12 depends on its efficacy on other vitamins being present in the body, so a balanced diet containing the other vitamins is a must. A low level of Vitamin B12 causes the homocysteine levels to be elevated. This is an amino acid that can cause heart diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia and delirium. High levels of this amino acid are also present in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and depression. So to keep those amino acids in check, the correct level of Vitamin B12 is necessary in the body.
It is known from studies that generally people over eighty are prone to this deficiency and especially those who are strictly vegetarian in their diets. Vegetables do contain Vitamin B12 but the content is very low and can therefore cause the deficiency that leads to other symptoms. So if you are a vegetarian and over eighty you must think of taking the necessary supplements to prevent any deficiency.
Vitamin B12 has a very significant role to play in maintaining brain and mental health because it helps in the manufacturing of vital brain chemicals that the body does require. People having a well balanced diet with sufficient Vitamin B12 are considered more calm and capable, especially when they enter old age.
Foods that are rich in Vitamin B12 are dairy products, eggs, pork, fish and beef. If this is lacking in your diet, ask the doctor to give you supplements that cover all Vitamin B and folic acid. Or if you feel comfortable with it, ask for a Vitamin B12 injection which is the fastest way of covering that deficiency. You will stop feeling run down and overworked and will ensure that the other symptoms of a Vitamin B12 deficiency will not occur in your body.