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Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient that the body needs because it helps make DNA, nerve and blood cells. Vitamin B12 is also important for a healthy brain and immune system.

Below are 13 important facts you should know about vitamin B12 deficiency

1. Vitamin B12 deficiency in the body can lead to a reduction in the production of red blood cells, making you feel confused and weak.

2. Heavy alcohol consumption increases your risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver and alcohol consumption can impair liver function.

3. Long-term vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to nerve damage.

4. Vitamin B12 deficiency that persists for years can have permanent side effects like irreversible neurologic damage.

5. Long-term vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause erectile dysfunction, insomnia and difficulty with bowel and bladder control.

6. Vegetarians are at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency because vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal products. Vegetarians should take supplements or consume vitamin B12-fortified foods.

7. Stomach acid is key for the production of vitamin B12 and as you age, the stomach produces less acid leaving adults over 50 at greater risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.

8. A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that some heartburn drugs suppress the production of stomach acid which isĀ  needed to absorb vitamin B12.

9. Vitamin B12 deficiency can be mistaken for dementia sometimes because they both have symptoms like memory loss, disorientation and difficulty in thinking and reasoning.

10. Taking birth control pills for extended periods of time have been linked with vitamin B12 deficiency. If you are on a pill, ask your doctor about the risks and if it will be necessary you take vitamin B12 supplements.

11. Vitamin B12 deficiency cab lower your immunity because vitamin B12 plays an important role in the production of white blood cells.

12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can trigger a type of anemia known as pernicious anemia.

13. The best sources of vitamin B12 are meat and fish like beef, turkey, oysters, chicken and salmon.