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Vitamin B12: Everything You Need To Know

What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, which also goes by the name cobalamin. Vitamin B12 is imperative to our health and serves a diversity of roles in the body, including:

Assisting with DNA creation
Helping generate red blood cells
Supporting the body in forming nerves
Nervous system regulation

​What are some sources of Vitamin B12?
Our bodies do not make vitamin B12. Instead, we must get this nutrient from food sources or supplements. Unfortunately, this attributes to the fact that many are not getting enough of this nutrient, which leads to vitamin B12 deficiencies.
Animal foods, such as grass-fed beef, fish, dairy products, cage-free eggs, and poultry, contain naturally occurring vitamin B12. Some other sources of this vitamin come from foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12. These include plant-based milks and different types of bread. We suggest reading nutrition labels to check if your food has been fortified with vitamin B12.

Who is at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency?
According to health professionals, there are many ways in which a vitamin B12 deficiency originates. Those who are most at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency include:

Elderly populations
Those who have had surgery that removes a portion of the bowel that absorbs this nutrient
Diabetes patients who take Metformin (*Note: The drug Metformin depletes your body of this nutrient, so be sure to speak with one of our pharmacists or your healthcare provider about replenishing your body of this.)
Those who are practice vegan-based diets

Other populations potentially at risk for vitamin B12 deficiencies include those who have:

Pernicious anemia
Conditions affecting the small intestine, e.g., Chron’s disease and Celiac disease
Alcohol misuse
Immune system disorders including Lupus or Grave’s disease

Aside from Metformin, what other medications affect the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12?
Certain heartburn medications:

Esomeprazole (Nexium)
Pantoprazole (Protonix)
Rabeprazole (Aciphex)
Lansoprazole (Prevacid)

H2 blockers including:

Cimetidine (Tagamet)
Famotidine (Pepcid AC)

What are some signs and symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency?
Warning signs and symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency may take months or even years to appear, making the diagnosis process even more difficult. Some significant signs and symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include:

Jaundice or pale skin
Elevated temperature
Dizziness or Breathlessness
Blurred or impaired vision
Changes in mood
Pins and needles sensation in the body
Mobility issues
Mouth ulcers or Glossitis

If you, a family member, or a friend are experiencing signs and symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency, please consult with your healthcare provider. Freedom Pharmacy has a dedicated team ready to assist you with your health and wellness journey. Our pharmacists are prepared to suggest daily lifestyle changes, supplements, and more for you to start feeling like your best self! Stop by today to talk with a pharmacist about creating a healthier lifestyle plan personalized just for you. We are conveniently located at Midtown in Hattiesburg at 3902 Hardy Street.