Vitamin B12

You require a minimal amount of B12 every day. Only ten micrograms worth spread over the day will suffice. Your body cannot use more than this in a day. However, if you do not ensure that you consume this minimal amount, the effects can be debilitating. Decreased cognitive function, fatigue, lethargy, depression, headaches, a sore tongue and heart palpitations are some of the symptoms that tell you that something is amiss. You may miss the signs as they take a long time to manifest; up to five years.The consequences of a deficiency can be accelerated if you smoke, abuse alcohol or regularly take antacids or medication for Type II diabetes. But of course, you don’t want to do that.

For those who are vegetarian, you may not even be to blame. Vitamin B12 naturally occurs in meat, liver, fish, eggs and milk, soy products, almond milk, nutritional yeast and fortified cereals. Unless these form a large part of your diet, you may simply not be getting enough of the vital vitamin. Therefore, for vegetarians, it is important to include milk or milk based products such as yoghurt or cheese in their diet. Including natural sources of Vitamin B12 is even more important as many sources such as gut bacteria, spirulina, dried nori and barley grass have been shown to be inadequate in providing adequate amounts. In such cases and also if you are lactose intolerant, you may be better off taking a supplement.

Most of us, including vegetarians, are consuming sufficient amounts of Vitamin B12 not to be clinically deficient. Being clinically deficient means an elevated risk of heart diseases, stroke and complicated pregnancies. It continually amazes me just how much micro quantities of nutrition or the absence thereof can significantly impact health. Perhaps we are more fragile than we imagine.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.