Vitamin B12 does a lot of great things for your body, but it can be hard to get enough of it. Especially in a vegan or vegetarian diet. We’ll walk you through the importance of vitamin B12 for your body, the foods it can be found in and how to recognise if you have a deficiency. But, let's start by explaining what vitamin B12 is.
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble-vitamin, meaning that it dissolves in the water in your body and doesn’t get stored in your fat cells. The body does not store a reserve, which is why it is important to make sure you keep providing your body with the vitamin.
It does a lot for your body, it keeps your blood cells and nerves healthy and is required in the production of DNA.
Which foods contain vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products naturally. It’s found in meat, eggs, fish and dairy products. If you live a vegan lifestyle it can therefore be hard to get enough B12 in your diet. Sometimes companies add vitamin B12 to breakfast cereals, plant-based milks or nutritional yeast, to figure out which companies do this it’s good to read the labels on the food. If you’re still struggling to get enough vitamin B12 out of your diet it can be recommended to take supplements.
But how do you know if you’re getting enough? We’ll explain to you how to recognise a deficiency below.
What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can be tiredness, constipation or weight loss. It can also cause nerve problems, such as tingling in the hands or feet. Severe deficiency can even cause depression. So we recommend making sure to get enough vitamin B12, the average daily recommended intake for adults is 2.4 mcg.
However, it’s important to know how well your body can metabolise this vitamin. Which is where your DNA comes into it. Our genes determine our ability to metabolise B12. So even if you have enough vitamin B12 in your diet, or if you take supplements you could still be deficient. The genes tested to determine this are FUT and TCN1. If you’d like to know how well your body metabolises vitamin B12 you could consider a DNA test. Our Fitness DNA test, Wellness DNA Pro test and Intolerance DNA test all test these genes. You will also be provided with advice from specialists based on your results.