Recognise the Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 is a crucial element, required for people of all age groups. This keeps both the mind and body healthy. Nonetheless, the fast food mania in the present world has led to a depletion of this vital nutrient, which forms the basis for innumerable health concerns. In this article, let us examine a few basic facts responsible for lack of vitamin B12 in the body.

Sources of Vitamin B12Vitamin B12- Introduction

Vitamin B12, otherwise known as cobalamins is the largest and the most complex of all groups of B- complex vitamins. It is a prerequisite for the absorption of folic acid for energy release. This essential vitamin is stored in small amounts in the body with 80% stored in the liver. Nevertheless, this element cannot be absorbed by the body except in coordination with another substance known as the intrinsic factor, produced by the stomach lining.

Sources of Vitamin B12

Sources of Vitamin B12

Importance of Vitamin B12 in the Body

Vitamin B12 is critical to perform the following important functions in the body…

  • Vitamin b12 works in conjunction with folate (Vitamin B9) aids in the production of red blood cells
  • It enables normal division of cells
  • Facilitates normal energy metabolism by breaking down food into energy
  • Crucial for maintaining neurological functions
  • Helps in DNA synthesis
  • In coordination with the B( and B6 this substance inhibits the production of homocysteine in the blood, one of the major contributors for occurrences of heart diseases
  • Boosts mental and psychological health
  • Combats fatigue and tiredness

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

Deficiency of this nutrient does not occur overnight but takes at least three to four years before manifestations of symptoms such as…

  • Exhaustion
  • Lethargy
  • Breathlessness
  • Light-headedness
  • Loss of appetiteVitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
  • Headache
  • Titinus (ringing in the ears)
  • Reddish sore tongue
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Yellow skin
  • Vision changes
  • Mood disturbances
  • Inability to feel much pain
  • Loss of sensations
  • Walking difficulty
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Palpitations
  • Irritability
  • Tingling/numbness
  • Digestive disorders
  • menstrual problems
  • Low resistance
  • Confusion
  • Pain/tenderness in the calf muscles

Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency is most common among people over 50 years of age. This occurs mainly due to dietary changes and ageing. In addition, various other factors play a key role towards Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Pernicious Anaemia

Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune condition that occurs due to the body’s inability to absorb vitamin B12. This is because during the normal process this crucial substance when it reaches the stomach binds to the intrinsic factor IF with exposure to gastric juices for healthy absorption of this vitamin. Nevertheless, when there is a shortage of this compound, the immune system attacks the abdominal cells thereby preventing absorption of vitamin B12. Furthermore, Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the formation of red blood cells (RBC) and for the production of hemoglobin, a prerequisite for the supply of oxygen throughout the body. Hence, low levels of this vital substance result in pernicious anemia, otherwise known as megaloblastic anemia. This occurs due to the irregular development of RBCs causing symptoms such as exhaustion, fatigue, difficulty in walking, weak muscles, palpitations and diarrhea.

Bowel Disease

Bowel Disease

Long-term inflammatory conditions of the small intestines known as crohns disease often lead to intestinal lining damage. This affects absorption of crucial vitamins. In addition, short bowel syndrome is another major cause for VitB12 deficiency wherein half of the small intestines is removed and shortened by surgery. This often leads to malnourishment due to an inability of the shortened small intestines to absorb enough water, vital nutrients and vitamins from food.

Bacterial overgrowth

Certain conditions like diverticulitis, scleroderma and diabetes slow down the movement of food through the intestines, which paves the way for growth, and multiplication of bacteria in the upper region of the small intestines. These use up B12 disallowing the nutrient to be absorbed by the body.

Dietary Habits

Deficiencies of this vitamin are also widespread among vegetarians and vegans who refrain from excellent natural sources of B12 such as animal foods such as meat, fish, milk, cheese and eggs

Certain Medications

Certain prescription medicines have a negative effect on the absorption of this vitamin. They are antacids, aspirin, proton pumps inhibitors (PPI) corticosteroids and metformin, recommended for diabetics are the other factors that prevent absorption of Vitamin B12.

Chronic alcoholism

Long-term alcoholism is another cause as alcohol prevents ample absorption of vitB12.

Treatment for Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency treatment depends upon the cause of this condition. For instance, for problems with absorption or pernicious anaemia, a course of Vitamin B12 injections amounting to six, taken in the form of hydroxocobalamin, once in every two to four days helps reverse the deficiency. Further, every three month maintenance injections may be recommended to replenish the nutrients. For diet-related deficiencies, huge doses of oral replacements will help relieve the symptoms.

Treatment for Vitamin B12 DeficiencyFor problems concerned with bacterial overgrowth and absorption, antibiotics may be prescribed to overcome the problems. In cases of extremely low RBC count, blood transfusions may be required initially followed by vitamin B12 injections. People over fifty years of age naturally suffer from depletion, due to reduced intrinsic factor that occurs with age. Hence, it is imperative to take B12 supplements Multivitamins with B12.

Prevention of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

In order to get the required amount of vitamin B12, taking a complete, balanced diet along with mineral supplements would help Vegans and vegetarians who refrain from consuming eggs.