B12 is an essential vitamin with roles throughout the body. It is needed for the development and maintenance of a healthy nervous system, the production of DNA and formation of red blood cells.A severe B12 deficiency results in anemia, which can be picked up by an ordinary blood test.
But the less dramatic symptoms of a B12 deficiency may include muscle weakness, fatigue, shakiness, unsteady gait, incontinence, low blood pressure, depression and other mood disorders, and cognitive problems like poor memory.Labs differ in what they consider normal, but most authorities say a deficiency occurs when B12 levels in adults fall below 250 picograms per milliliter of blood serum.
Like all B vitamins, B12 is water-soluble, but the body stores extra B12 in the liver and other tissues. Even if dietary sources are inadequate for some time, a serum deficiency may not show up for years.
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