Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin in the diet typically provided by animal-based proteins like meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy products. We need adequate vitamin B12 in the body to produce red blood cells, nerves, and DNA. It can also prevent megaloblastic anemia.
Because vitamin B12 is derived in our diets from animal-based sources, vegetarians, especially vegans, are at higher risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency. People who have had weight-loss surgery are also at a higher risk because the surgery affects the way nutrients are absorbed by the body, reducing the absorption of vitamin B12. Patients with Celiac or Crohn’s disease, which both affect nutrient absorption, are also at high risk of deficiency. Finally, people who take medication for heartburn are at higher risk because the heartburn medication reduces acid in the stomach, which is needed for vitamin B12 absorption.