When we are feeling flat our first point of call for testing is usually iron and with good reason, approximately a quarter of all women have low iron levels! But I digress, this is not about iron, this is about the often neglected B12.
Good old B12, essential for so many functions in the body. It helps to make DNA and red blood cells, it’s vital for the production of energy from folic acid, and is crucial for brain and nerve function.
B12 is made by bacteria and is really only found in animal-based foods. There are potentially small amounts in some plant foods but vegans, vegetarians or anyone who doesn’t eat a balanced diet should look at supplementation of B12.
Some of the main symptoms of deficiency are:
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Red ‘beefy’ looking tongue
- Problems with balance
- Tingling or numbness of hands and feet
When getting your B12 tested it is best to look at the total B12 as well as the active B12 because we want to see if you are actually able to access and use the B12 in your body.
The reference ranges on most standard blood tests, in my opinion, are too low and so even though you may be scraping through according to the general medical standards, you may still be lower than ideal.
If you’ve been experiencing any of the above symptoms or eat a predominantly plant-based diet it would be a good idea to ask your GP for a B12 test and start supplementing.