Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerves and blood cells healthy and helps produce DNA, the genetic material of all cells.
Vitamin B12 is naturally absorbed by eating certain foods. Therefore, including foods rich in vitamin B12 in your diet is key to avoiding the threat of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
A protein produced by the stomach called intrinsic factor is needed to absorb vitamin B12 from food, however, certain underlying conditions prevent this process.
Certain stomach conditions or stomach operations can also prevent the absorption of sufficient vitamin B12.
“For example, a gastrectomy, a surgical procedure in which part of the stomach is removed, increases the risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency,” explains the NHS.
In addition, some conditions that affect the intestines can also prevent you from 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 that your body does not get enough vitamin B12, explains the NHS.
However, most people can easily be treated with injections or tablets to replace missing vitamins.
There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:
If your vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by a lack of vitamin in your diet, you may be prescribed vitamin B12 tablets to take every day between meals, the NHS notes.
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.