For all the vegetarians or vegans out there, you’re probably wondering if you’re getting enough vitamin B12, since sources of vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products or supplements. However, there are ways to find out if you have vitamin B12 deficiency. One of them is through your genes. But first, let’s go through what exactly vitamin B12 is and why we need it.
What is Vitamin B and B12?
The B vitamins are a collection of eight different vitamins, involved in a variety of metabolic processes, such as the breakdown of carbohydrate, fat and protein. They also play an important role in helping cells to multiply by replicating DNA. All these vitamins are essential for the body to function correctly.
Vitamin B12 is required for the proper function and development of the brain, nerves, blood cells, and the breaking down of fats and protein to produce energy.
Vitamin B12 deficiency in vegans?
Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12 are found in a wide variety of foods and deficiency in these is very uncommon, and typically only associated with people who have a very restricted or unhealthy diet. B12 is only found in animal products and vegetarians and vegans should be aware of this and make sure to get a sufficient amount through diet or supplements. If you lack B9 or B12 you can experience headaches, weakness and weight loss. Both are needed in creation of red blood cells, and if you are lacking either you can experience fatigue as a result of anemia.
Overview of the B12 deficiency symptoms:
What happens if we get too much?
The fact that our body excretes excess amounts of B vitamins, it is highly unlikely that you can get too much of these. However, if you do intake above the daily recommendation over a period of time, it can lead to malaise, irritability, nausea, vomiting, headache and intestinal dysfunction.
If you get too much B9 you can also impair your body’s absorption of zinc and risk hiding B12 deficiency. This is due to the close relationship between vitamin B12 and B9; they both depend on each other’s presence to function properly.
What can your genetics tell about your vitamin B12 levels?
The gene FUT2 is related to absorption of vitamin B12. Depending on the different variations of your gene it determines whether you have a risk of low uptake in vitamin B12.