Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells.
Vitamin B12 is naturally absorbed by eating certain foods. Including B12-rich foods in your diet is therefore key to warding off the threat of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
A protein made by the stomach called intrinsic factor is needed to absorb vitamin B12 from food, however, certain underlying conditions impede this process.
Certain stomach conditions or stomach operations can also prevent the absorption of enough vitamin B12.
“For example, a gastrectomy, a surgical procedure where part of your stomach is removed, increases your risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency,” explains the NHS.
Additionally, some conditions that affect your intestines can also stop you absorbing the necessary amount of vitamin B12.
For example, Crohn’s disease, a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system, can sometimes mean your body does not get enough vitamin B12, the NHS explains.
However, most people can be easily treated with injections or tablets to replace the missing vitamins.
There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:
If your vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by a lack of the vitamin in your diet, you may be prescribed vitamin B12 tablets to take every day between meals, notes the NHS.
Although a vitamin B12 deficiency cannot be resolved by diet alone, it is naturally found in the following foods:
- Salmon and cod
- Milk and other dairy products