Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is an essential ingredient for brain cells, the central nervous system, and oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in red blood cells. We get it from our diets and absorb it at the end of the small intestine, helped by intrinsic factor, a chemical secreted by the stomach.
Our bodies store enough for at least two years, but without B12 we’ll eventually develop pernicious anaemia (PA). One in 10,000 people has PA, and after the age of 65 more than one in 20 of us has it. However, younger people can get it, too, particularly if they follow strict vegan diets without getting enough B12. Dietary deficiency is a common cause, especially in people who don’t like animal-based foods, or have problems with shopping or cooking due to poor mobility, or other disabilities.
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