Are Your Vitamin B12 Levels Healthy?Vitamin B12 is a complex and important nutrient. Chemically known as cobalamin, it’s one of the eight known B vitamins, all of which serve similar functions within the human body: they enable the production of enzymes that fuel chemical processes fundamental to life.
What does B12 do inside your body?
Vitamin B12 is used by the body to:
- Create both red blood cells and immune system cells
- Create a protective insulating layer around nerve cells called myelin
- Metabolise certain nutrients; amino acids, and essential fatty acids
Why is it important to maintain healthy levels of B12?Vitamin B12 is involved in such crucial metabolic processes within the body that low levels can have a major effect on health. A healthy intake will cut your risk of potentially serious complications like heart disease and osteoporosis. B12 deficiency anaemia can develop if a lack of the vitamin interferes with the production of healthy blood cells: abnormally large, non-functional cells may form instead. Good levels of B12 have also been linked to better health in old age, reducing the risk of eye and memory problems.
What it means when your levels of B12 changeChanging levels of vitamin B12 can indicate problems with your diet, a decline in your health, or the onset of illness.
Dietary issues that can lead to a fall in vitamin B12 levels include:
- A strict vegan or vegetarian diet with no compensatory supplements taken or appropriately fortified foods consumed
- Too much alcohol
A number of illnesses can also affect B12 levels, for example:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Coeliac disease
- Lupus and similar autoimmune conditions
- Muscular twinges and prickling
- Problems with your eyesight
- A painful tongue
- A low mood
- Mouth ulcers
What can you do to ensure healthy levels of B12?The first step to ensuring healthy B12 levels is straightforward: make sure you eat plenty of foods rich in this vitamin. For example: