The Important Facts You Need To Know About Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Firstly, check the following list of symptoms:
- Light-headedness, tiredness and fatigue
- Lack of breath and rapid heartbeat
- Lack of concentration and memory
- Tingling and numbness of the feet and hands
- Lack of coordination and balance
- Pale looking skin
- Soreness of the tongue
- Bleeding gums and easy bruising
- Upset stomach
- Abnormal weight loss
- Hallucinations, depression, mania and irritability
If you are experiencing several of these symptoms, you may be vitamin B12 deficient.
Vitamin B12 and its importance
Vitamin B12 protects the health of the blood cells and nerves. It also aids the creation of DNA (genetic material in the cells). Vitamin B12 also protects from megaloblastic anemia. This type of anemia makes a person feel weak and tired.
To absorb vitamin B12 from the food, the body needs to perform two steps. Firstly, the stomach’s hydrochloric acid separates the vitamin from the proteins found in the food product. Afterwards, the vitamin combines with intrinsic factor, protein produced by the stomach. Finally, the B12 vitamin is absorbed by the body. People suffering from pernicious anemia cannot produce the intrinsic factor, so they cannot absorb vitamin B12.
The occurrence of vitamin B12 deficiency
Many people are vitamin B12 deficient, especially people older than 60. However, the vitamin B12 tests have very high lower limits, so often many people are not considered as vitamin B12 deficient, even though they are.
Enough vitamin B12 intake
Most people get enough vitamin B12 through their diet. However, some people cannot absorb this vitamin properly, so testing vitamin B12 deficiency may determine whether or not a problem is present.
The following people may have problems to absorb this vitamin:
People over 50 may have problems in absorbing vitamin B12 from food, since their stomach may not produce enough hydrochloric acid, and as we said this acid is essential for vitamin B12 absorption.
People who suffer from pernicious anemia cannot absorb enough vitamin B12 because of no intrinsic factor. This condition is treated with high oral doses of the vitamin or vitamin B12 injections.
People with digestive problems (Crohn’s disease or celiac disease) or people who had undergone gastrointestinal surgery (weight loss surgery) cannot absorb the needed amount of vitamin B12.
People who are vegans and vegetarians are often vitamin B12 deficient, since vitamin B12 is only found in animal food products. The babies of women who breastfeed, and are vegans or vegetarians can also be vitamin B12 deficient.
Foods rich in vitamin B12
Natural vitamin B12 is found in animal foods. It can also be added to some fortified food products. Only fortified plant food products have vitamin B12. The following food products will provide your body with the needed vitamin B12:
- Clams and beef liver
- Eggs, fish, poultry, meat, milk and other dairy products
- Nutritional yeasts, some cereals and other fortified foods
When to test yourself for vitamin B12 deficiency?
- Anemia with elevated mean corpuscular volume
- Balance issue, numbness, difficulty with walking, tingling and other neurological symptoms
- Disorientation, confusion and change in mental status
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Schizophrenia, mania and bipolar disorder
- Pancreatic insufficiency and similar gastrointestinal disorders
- Gastric bypass patients
- People older than 60
- People on a restricted diet such as vegetarians and vegans
- Autoimmune disorders
- Children with developmental delay and autism
- Breast fed babies with mothers who are vitamin B12 deficient
- Eating disorder
- Family history of anemia
- Use of Metformin and PPI medications
- Vascular disorders such as blood clots, stroke or heart attack
I am vitamin B12 deficient
This vitamin is not toxic and is water soluble so it is easy to solve the deficiency in this vitamin. High oral intake and vitamin B12 injections are efficient against the problem. Vitamin B12 has several forms, so it is best to ask the doctor about choosing the appropriate form of this vitamin.
Vitamin B12 is found in dairy products, meat, eggs, poultry, seafood and fish. Human beings have used this method to take enough vitamin B12 for centuries.
If you are not consuming animal foods, just check the food labels or take a multivitamin in order to consume the needed dose of vitamin B12.