Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that the body needs to function at its best, so when there is a deficiency, it can lead to a range of symptoms. Find out all about why our body needs vitamin B12, how to add it to your diet and what you can do if you think you have a deficiency.
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep our nerves and blood cells healthy. Not only that, but it also helps produce our DNA - the genetic material that is in all cells that make us who we are! However, if we don’t have enough B12 in our body then it can lead to a variety of health concerns, including a type of anaemia which can make you feel very unwell.
Our bodies do not naturally make B12, instead, it is found in food sources such as beef, eggs and milk, and also in supplements. People who do not eat foods containing B12 may find they have symptoms of deficiency. However, this isn't the only reason you may have low levels. Other causes include your stomach not being able to absorb B12 from the foods you are eating or if you have a digestive disorder such as Crohn's or celiac disease.
Symptoms of a B12 deficiency
If you do not ingest enough B12, then you may succumb to some of the many symptoms associated with a deficiency, including:
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- Lethargy (a complete lack of energy)
- Nerve problems such as tingling in your hands and feet
- Problems with balance
- Poor memory
- Soreness in your tongue and mouth, including ulcers.
How to Test for a B12 Deficiency
If you are showing symptoms of a B12 deficiency you can either visit your GP or you can order an at-home test from Superdrug's Online Doctor. We have two kinds of kits available, a basic one which will check your B12 levels and an extended kit which will test your B12, folate and intrinsic-factor antibodies.
Vitamin B12 Injection Service
If you have taken a test and it shows you are B12 deficient, then an effective way to treat it is with a vitamin B12 injection.
This injection is available via our Superdrug Health Clinics; however, in order for you to receive the injection, you must be able to prove you have a deficiency either with the results from your GP or by taking the B12 extended test via Superdrug Online Doctor.
The injection is given every 2-6 months, depending on how low your levels are, and each dose cost £29.
You can book an appointment by clicking the link below or by calling the Superdrug Health Clinics team on 03333111007.
Vitamin B12 Supplements
Another common way to try and combat the deficiency is by taking vitamin B12 supplements. This form of treatment is usually recommended for people who have trouble getting sufficient levels of this vitamin through their diet, such as elderly people over 65 who may struggle to naturally absorb the vitamin. Also, vegans and vegetarians who do not eat enough food fortified with B12 can also be at an increased risk of deficiency. A great option for these groups is to support their diet with vitamin B12 supplements. However, we recommend speaking to your GP before taking any supplements to ensure this is the most effective way to treat the issue.