Whether red blood cells, skin cells or nerve cells - whenever your organism forms new cells, vitamin B12 is needed. That is why it is also called the "cell vitamin".
Vitamin B12 is significantly involved in various metabolic processes in your body, including the breakdown of fatty acids, cell division and the function of nerves. Its central role in the metabolism of the vitamin folic acid (folate) also makes it important for blood formation. It cannot be produced by humans, animals or plants. Only microorganisms are able to do this. Thus, it is easier to develop a vitamin B12 deficiency on a strictly vegan diet.
An undersupply of Vitamin B12 can be avoided in many cases by regularly eating animal products. However, even if you pay attention to a diet rich in vitamin B12, a targeted intake of vitamin B12 may be necessary if certain risk factors are present (e.g. older age, underlying diseases).
So that Vitamin B12 can be utilised by the organism, the so-called "intrinsic factor" is necessary. This is produced by your stomach lining. For this reason, chronic inflammations of the stomach can promote a vitamin B12 deficiency. In older people, too, changes in the mucous membrane of the stomach can more easily lead to an undersupply of Vitamin B12. In addition, a deficiency can occur due to illness, for example in the case of various gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn's disease and gastrectomy.
The symptoms that can arise as a result of a vitamin B12 deficiency are manifold and largely unspecific. Therefore, it happens all too often that a deficiency is only recognised late. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, hair loss and problems with concentration. Numbness, gait instability and anaemia are also possible symptoms. If a pronounced vitamin B12 deficiency remains untreated for a long time, it can cause permanent damage, especially to the brain and nervous system. In contrast, no dangerous (toxic) effects are known at high doses.
If you would like to find out more about vitamin B12, simply make an appointment at one of our Avi Medical practices and discuss it with our team of doctors. Here you can decide together whether a vitamin B12 test makes sense for you.
Good to know: Currently, the laboratory test is only covered by the statutory health insurance if there is a specific medical indication and not as a preventive measure (e.g. in the case of a vegan/vegetarian diet or general complaints).