Vitamin-B12 – Importance, Causes, Symptoms and Side Effects

The Human body requires different minerals, vitamins, and fats to function efficiently and deficiencies in any of them could potentially thwart the effective functioning. Vitamin      B-12 is one of those essential vitamins that play an important role in the physiological realm of the body. It is also called Cobalamin. The deficiency of this vitamin is very common in adults. Almost 40% of Americans suffer from low B12 levels. They have complained of chronic fatigue and irritation. This water-soluble vitamin is extremely important for the production of red blood cells and helps improve mental processes.  Besides this, there are umpteen benefits and thus its levels, if low, could alter a lot of processes. Let us know in detail all about Vitamin B12.

Why is B12 Important for your body?

Vitamin B12 is a core vitamin and its effects on the body are many. These are however subject to the type of body, immunity levels, and general strength. Some of the effects are below.

  • B12 aids the production of DNA which forms the genetic core of the body.
  • A low B12 could mean an increase in the homocysteine levels in the body. Homocysteine is an amino acid that helps in protein synthesis. B12 aids in the activation of the enzyme.
  • Vitamin B12 helps in the production of Haemoglobin which transports oxygen and this builds RBC’s.
  • It helps in maintaining body metabolism and nerve communication by aiding protein synthesis which is the backbone of the body.
  • It helps the body maintain myelin which is a fatty substance that is protein rich and surrounds nerve cells.
  • It helps efficient transmission of electric impulses needed for nerve communication.
  • A low B12 could even cause progressive damage to the cells and hinder development.
  • Vitamin B12 provides the body with energy and helps in absorption of folic acid
  • Low B12 can cause Pernicious anemia which is a body condition that can be a long-term condition.

What are the Causes of Low Vitamin B12?

  • Insufficient intake through food sources. This is the most common reason and cause for a low B12. Since B12 is hardly found in vegan or vegetarian sources, there is a difficult for them. However not eating a balanced diet could also cause the deficiency.
  • A condition of the digestive syndrome and inner lining could also be the reason for a low B12 as it becomes hard for the body to absorb vitamin B12.
  • Immunity system disorders
  • Gastritis or stomach related issues
  • Small intestine issues like the Crohn’s disease.

This means that a perfectly healthy adult will have a low B12 if there is no proper intake mostly.

What are the Symptoms of Low B12?

  • Frequent tiredness, weakness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent heart palpitations
  • Loss of vision
  • Mood swings
  • Behavioral changes
  • Memory Loss
  • Depression
  • Difficulty in walking

Which foods are high in B12?

Vitamin B12 is found in rich quantities in animal foods. The natural ones or ones which fortified minerals and vitamins. Here we present you the best food sources for all categories.

Vegetarian Vegan Non-Vegetarian
Yogurt Fortified non-dairy milk Pork
Cheese Marmite Fish
Low fat milk Breakfast cereals Meat
Plant based milk Vegan spreads Eggs
Nutritional yeast Any fortified meat


If one does not get the required quantity, they can choose supplements. Most multivitamin tablets contain vitamin B12. One should check the supplement facts label and dosage serving to get an idea.

How much should be Consumed Ideally?

Vitamin B12 stages

Source: National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human services

What are the Side Effects?

Though there are no serious side effects of the natural foods. A supplement may have effects like-

  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety

Serious cases may lead to clots, heart failures, and breathing issues. This happens if the person is already under some form of medication and Vitamin B12 is altering a process or course.

Can Vitamin B12 make you gain Weight?

Vitamin B12 does not lead to weight gain. Vitamin B12 generally increases the metabolism of the body and this leads to a good digestion. This leads to the body feeling lighter. Scientific studies have not confirmed the role of Vitamin B12 in weight loss. This means though it is not confirmed, taking the required quantities of Vitamin B12 is important if not for weight loss.

Bottom line

Vitamin B12 is important for preventing nerve damage, pernicious anemia and maintaining a good health. It improves protein bases and also encourages a better activity. One should add adequate amounts of Vitamin B12 naturally or through a supplement. After all, prevention is better than cure.

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