So, just what is Vitamin B12 exactly, and why do people need to have it? It is a vital nutrient that’s found in food. It works to keep nerve cells healthy and helps our red blood cells work at optimum efficiency. Vitamin B12 is also important to proper digestion. Our stomach acids get the B12 from what we eat then mix it with other chemicals so it can be more readily absorbed as it goes through our intestinal tracts.

If you are not getting enough vitamin B12 you may feel lightheaded, weak and tired. Other symptoms include bleeding gums, sore tongue, diarrhea, constipation, shortness of breath, ringing in the ears, confusion, tingling in the hands and feet, chest pain, digestion problems, forgetfulness and an inability to focus on things. None of these things are pleasant, and should be considered serious enough to make an appointment to see a doctor.

Even though there are a lot of symptoms, the reality is that a deficiency of Vitamin B12 isn’t all that common. It is available in many different foods, but the chief source is red meat. It’s for this reason that vegetarians are one of the higher risk groups for the deficiency. Therefore, if you do have a deficiency, it’s more likely caused by a digestive disorder than by your diet. Those with celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, chronic diarrhea and related disorders are likely to lack B12 due to their not being to absorb Vitamin B12 properly.

Many physicians and dieticians recommend a shot of Vitamin B12 to their patients trying to lose weight, whether they are deficient or not. That’s because it works as a natural energy booster. The shot is given because a decrease in caloric intake often results in a lack of energy. For this reason, a lot of people swear a diet designed for B12 deficiency is good for those trying to lose weight. Many weight loss facilities use Vitamin B12 injections as a part of their services.

Gastroenterologists, family physicians and neurologists, also take advantage of Vitamin B12 deficiency diet therapy. As people go through the aging process their diets tend to change, and combined with a decrease of cognitive function, additional B12 is often required. Some doctors also give it to their patients that suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. While it isn’t medically recommended, students have been know to increase their intake of Vitamin B12 in the form of energy drinks to increase their ability to concentrate on their studies.

When it comes to losing weight, Vitamin B12 has another benefit: it can reduce food cravings. It’s pretty easy to see how that could help anybody that’s on a diet. In fact, with all it has going for it, it’s important to make sure you are not deficient in this vital nutrient. You can visit your doctor and discuss your concerns. They may suggest a simple blood test to check for a deficiency, and recommend a course of action based on the results.

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