How to understand that you do not have enough vitamin B₁₂

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How to understand that you do not have enough vitamin B₁₂

Spoiler: a deficiency of B₁₂ can go unnoticed for many years and lead to serious health problems.

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What is vitamin B 12

In fact, B 12  is a group of substances, cobalamins, which are necessary for normal functioning of the nervous system, participate in the vital activity of every cell in the body (including DNA and RNA synthesis) and in the production of red blood cells, and determine the concentration of homocysteine   in the blood - amino acids which affects the risk of heart disease.

How do we get vitamin B 12

Vitamin B 12 is synthesized by bacteria in the digestive tract of any animal. In humans, it is also produced. The hitch is that B 12 is formed in the large intestine, and is absorbed only in the small intestine, that is, in that part of the gastrointestinal tract, where it can get only with food. So the only way to get vitamin B 12 is to eat foods that contain it (or take supplements).

What foods have a lot of vitamin B 12

B 12 is found only in animal products. Champion - beef liver: 100 g as much as 60 micrograms of vitamin (with a daily rate for adults 2.0–2.4 micrograms). Many B 12 in octopus, herring (especially smoked), chicken liver, mussels, and mackerel. Plus or minus the daily rate can be obtained from 100 g of beef, lamb, and turkey. Some vitamin (less than the daily requirement per 100 g) is in egg yolk, shrimp, hard cheese and other dairy products.

What if you are a vegan?

Take B 12 as an additive or include artificially fortified foods (such as cereal and vegetable milk) in the diet. This recommendation concerns not only vegans but also non-strict vegetarians, those who eat dairy products and eggs: alas, the amount of vitamin the body can get from milk, cheese, and yolks is not enough.

But the main risk for herbalists is not even B 12 deficiency, but the fact that folic acid, which is found in large amounts in legumes, spinach, asparagus and broccoli (and which is usually a lot in the diet of vegans and vegetarians), masks a B 12 deficiency. As a result, a vitamin deficiency can go unnoticed for years - until serious health problems appear.

What threatens the lack of vitamin B 12

Acute shortage of B 12 leads to anemia, neuropathy and other diseases of the nervous system increases the risk of schizophrenia and psychosis. A slight decrease in vitamin levels is fraught with migraines, depression and memory impairment.

How to understand that you do not have enough vitamin B 12

An adult's body contains 2–5 mg of vitamin B 12, while about 50% of this amount is stored in the liver. Such a reserve may be enough for 3-4 years of normal life. Acute deficiency is extremely rare - mainly among those who have excluded food of animal origin from the diet, and in young children. However, unpleasant symptoms can occur even with a slight vitamin deficiency. Here are the main signs:

  • fast fatiguability;
  • tingling in the feet and toes;
  • headache, migraine;
  • irritability;
  • a sharp weakening of the immune system;
  • brittle hair and nails; 
  • pallor.

If you find yourself showing signs of vitamin B 12 deficiency, consult a general practitioner: the doctor will prescribe the necessary tests and examinations and, if necessary, prescribe vitamins.

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