B-12 plays a role in human metabolism, red blood cell formation and serves a major role in several other bodily functions. Serum levels below 170-250 pg/ml indicates B-12 deficiency. Readily available fortified breakfast cereals are an excellent source of B-12 as well as nutritional yeast that may be added to other foods, therefore, it is very possible for the average vegan to avoid B-12 deficiency. The consumption of fortified breakfast cereal at least four times per week is considered adequate for the average adult to maintain adequate B-12 levels.
Dietary supplements as well as intramuscular injections are often required for adequate B-12 intake. People with certain intestinal disorders may have problems absorbing B-12 from food sources. Numbness and tingling of the hands, anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, soreness of the mouth and tongue, weight loss and loss of appetite are physical symptoms resulting from B-12 deficiency. However, dementia, confusion, lack of balance, poor memory and depression are also associated with B-12 deficiency.
To avoid irreversible neurological damage, early intervention is necessary. Senior citizens, patients with pernicious anemia, individuals that have undergone gastrointestinal surgery or have gastrointestinal disorders, as well as pregnant and lactating mothers are at high risk for vitamin B-12 deficiency. B-12 supplements may improve cognitive abilities and increase energy levels improving a person's sense of well being for individuals in these categories. So don't forget the breakfast cereal!
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