Vitamin B12 is important for several body functions

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin essential for various body functions. It plays an important role in DNA synthesis, neurological function, red blood cell production, and overall energy metabolism. Despite its importance, many people around the world still suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency, a condition that can have serious health consequences. Many people are unable to maintain vitamin B12 levels in their bodies even after taking supplements. Below are some reasons that may help you understand why this happens.

Nutritional deficiency

One of the main reasons for vitamin B12 deficiency is a poor diet. Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs and milk. Vegetarians and vegans, who avoid or limit their consumption of animal products, are especially at risk. Over time, diets lacking these sources of vitamin B12 can lead to deficiency.

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Diseases that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption

Even if an individual’s diet contains adequate amounts of vitamin B12, malabsorption disorders can hinder the absorption of this important nutrient. Conditions such as pernicious anemia, atrophic gastritis, and celiac disease can cause damage to the stomach or small intestine, reducing the body’s ability to effectively absorb vitamin B12. People with these conditions often need special treatment or dietary supplements to maintain B12 levels.

Insufficient stomach acid

Stomach acid plays an important role in releasing vitamin B12 from food, allowing it to bind to intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein in the stomach. This complex is essential for absorption in the small intestine. Conditions that reduce stomach acid, such as acid reflux or certain medications, can interfere with this process and lead to vitamin B12 deficiency.

Gastrointestinal surgery

People who have undergone gastrointestinal surgery, especially weight loss procedures, may be at higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. This is because parts of the stomach and small intestine may be altered or removed during surgery, reducing the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12.

Certain medications

Some medications can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), commonly prescribed for acid reflux, and metformin, a medication used to control diabetes, have been linked to reduced B12 absorption. People taking these medications for long periods of time should be monitored for possible deficiency and may need supplementation.

Old age

Elderly people are more susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency due to many different factors. As people age, their stomach lining can become thinner, leading to reduced acid production. Additionally, many older adults have difficulty absorbing B12 from their diet. Regular screening and supplementation are often recommended for older adults.


Alcohol consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Alcohol can damage the stomach lining and reduce its ability to release intrinsic factor. It can also affect the liver, which is essential for storing and releasing vitamin B12. Therefore, chronic alcohol abuse may worsen the deficiency.

Signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause many consequences, including anemia, neurological disorders, fatigue, weakness and cognitive impairment. If left untreated, it can lead to serious and irreversible damage to the nervous system. Pregnant women with a B12 deficiency may experience complications during pregnancy and developmental problems in their children.

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Some genetic factors

In some cases, genetic factors may contribute to vitamin B12 deficiency. Certain genetic conditions, such as congenital pernicious anemia, affect the body’s ability to produce intrinsic factor or absorb vitamin B12 effectively. These individuals may require lifelong supplementation.