Cobalamin, or vitamin B12, is a water-soluble vitamin that's needed for the nervous system to function. In terms of structural complexity, it's the biggest and most complex of all the B vitamins.
The Role of Vitamin B12
The right levels of Vitamin B12 in your body are essential for proper health and a healthy immune system. A healthy immune system depends on vitamins B12 and folic acid. The body needs both to make enough red blood cells to carry oxygen. Deficiencies in folate and/or vitamin B12 can weaken your immune system, and your body will have a tough time fighting off pathogens (an organism causing disease). It's important to ensure your red blood cells form and function properly because they're crucial to your body's immune response.
Other ways that B12 helps in maintaining proper health are:
Supports the central nervous system
Boosts red blood cell production
Enhances DNA production
Boosts mood and cognitive function
Enhances energy levels by converting food into energy
May help with cardiovascular health and brain health
Risk Factors for B12 Deficiency
Lacking vitamin B12 occurs when your diet and lifestyle do not support enough of the vitamin or you may suffer from a digestive system disorder that prevents the absorption of B12. Here are some factors that may increase your chance of having a B12 deficiency:
Some prescription medications
Alcohol use disorder
An autoimmune disorder related to the endocrine system
Gastrointestinal issues, including gastric bypass or disorders, such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease
Old age and a correlated decrease in stomach acid
A plant-based diet low in foods containing vitamin B12
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
There are a variety of symptoms to look out for that may indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency. These include:
A yellow tinge to the skin
Pins and needles
Impaired brain function
Feeling weak or faint
Anxiety and Depression
Lower visual acuity
A vitamin B12 deficiency may also lead to an autoimmune disease called pernicious anemia. This is caused by low vitamin B12 levels in the body. In pernicious anemia, the immune system attacks stomach cells, preventing the body from absorbing vitamin B12. Although the cause of this condition is unknown, supplements can help with the symptoms.
Sources of Vitamin B12
There are a number of sources that contain Vitamin B12, such as supplements or natural food sources. If you or a loved one may be suffering from a deficiency or would like to ensure you are getting enough to support your immune system, check with your doctor to discuss the options below.
Supplements - often one of the easiest and most convenient ways to ensure you are getting enough vitamins into your body. Taking supplements allows you to maintain your diet without making any significant changes. For vitamin B12, there are a couple of options, such as oral sprays or tablets.
Food Sources - Meats, such as beef, venison and turkey contain high levels of vitamin B12. Another source is shellfish, such as varieties of oysters and mussels. Other fish like salmon, tuna, and trout are excellent options as well to add to your diet. Milk, dairy, and fortified cereals are also found to have high levels of vitamin B12, especially cheese and yogurt.
Recommended vitamin B12 dosages
**It should also be noted that pregnant women should try to consume at least 2.6μg of vitamin B12.
Grilled Trout with Lemon Garlic Butter
This quick and easy meal is a delicious way to boost your vitamin B12 with over 15μg per serving!
4 Cloves garlic, minced
Step 1 Place the trout in the center of a large piece of tin foil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chopped garlic and top with lemon slices and thin strips of butter.
Step 2 Wrap the tin foil up around the trout and roll the edges together to create a tight seal.
Step 3 Grill for 3-5 minutes on one side, then flip the foil pack and grill the other side for the same amount of time.
Step 4 Carefully open the tin foil pack to check if it is cooked. The fish meat will easily flake off the bone with a fork when it is done. If it isn’t fully cooked, wrap the fish back up in the tin foil and grill another few minutes on both sides.
Serve along your favourite side, such as rice, grilled vegetables, salad, or roasted potatoes!
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