Are you getting enough vitamin B12? Many people don’t, and that deficiency can cause some serious problems.
Vitamin B12 does a lot of things for your body. It helps make your DNA and your red blood cells, for examples.
Since your body doesn't make vitamin B12, you'll need to get it from animal-based foods or from supplements, and it needs to be consumed on a regular basis. Exactly how much you need and where you should get it from depends on things like your age, the diet you follow, your medical conditions, and in some cases what medications you take.
Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency can happen if you have certain conditions, such as:
- Atrophic gastritis, in which your stomach lining has thinned
- Pernicious anemia, which makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamin B12
- Surgery that removed part of your stomach or small intestine, including weight loss surgery
- Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite
- Heavy drinking
- Immune system disorders, such as Graves' disease or lupus
- Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs. Stomach acids help break down animal proteins that have vitamin B12.
You can also get vitamin B12 deficiency if you're a vegan (meaning you don't eat any animal products, including meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) or a vegetarian who doesn't eat enough eggs or dairy products to meet your vitamin B12 needs.
Babies born to mothers who are vegetarians may also not get enough vitamin B12. Vegans can take supplements containing vitamin B12 or by eating vitamin B12-fortified grains.
The risk of B12 deficiency also increases with age.