Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms may range from a blurry vision to fatigue and sometimes anxiety or dementia too. Thus, eating a Vitamin B12 rich diet is extremely important for a fit & healthy life.
Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin is a water soluble vitamin. It is one of the eight B vitamins
and is needed for the proper functioning of nerve tissue, brain function, and red blood cells. Vitamin B12 can be industrially produced through bacterial fermentation synthesis.
The Recommended dietary amounts (RDA) of Vitamin B12 is –
- 2.4mg for adults
- 2.6g for pregnant women
- 2.8mg for breastfeeding women
Also, it is suggested that adults above the age of 50 years should take Vitamin B12 supplements.
Vitamin B12 Sources
Given below are some of the rich sources of Vitamin B12.
Who’s at risk?
Since a majority of Vitamin B12 sources are meats, vegans and vegetarians are at a greater risk of developing Vitamin B12 deficiency. The risk increases further in pregnant and lactating women. Women who are on birth control pills for an extended period of time tend to have issues absorbing Vitamin B12. Studies have shown that pills which have high estrogen content are associated with Vitamin B12 and folate deficiency. If you’re on the pill talk to your doctor about taking Vitamin B12 supplements.
Also, people with pernicious anemia may have low levels of Vitamin B12 in their body. Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease affecting the blood. Pernicious means dangerous and it is called so because anemia can become life threatening if not treated on time. The treatment usually involves giving Vitamin B12 shots accompanied by supplements.
People who drink more than a few drinks every day can also have Vitamin B12 deficiency. Excess alcohol can disturb the stomach lining which will lead to low stomach acids, thus less absorption of Vitamin B12. Alcohol plays another role in creating a deficiency. Vitamin B12 is usually stored in the liver and excess alcohol can damage the liver and deplete the stored amount of Vitamin B12 leading to a deficiency.
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Adults above the age of 50 years are also at a greater risk. As you age the stomach produces less acid, and stomach acid is the key element of Vitamin B12 absorption. Adults who are on medications and have poor appetite may have further reduced stomach acid levels, which in turn will be harmful. If you’re an adult above 50 years of age and have a dwindling appetite, you can consult your doctor about Vitamin B12 supplements. These days Vitamin B12 injections are also available.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
It is essential that you keep an eye on the signs and symptoms of deficiency of Vitamin B12. A slight dip in the level of Vitamin B12 in the body can cause depression, dizziness, tiredness, and memory problems. Excessive deficiency can lead to severe damage to the nervous system and brain. It can also cause anemia.
Top 10 signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency you must be aware of –
Vitamin B12 is often called the energy vitamin. Low level of Vitamin B12 in your body may cause a dip in the production of red blood cells. This can lead to the person feeling confused and weak. Doctors say that the signs of fatigue are so varied in every person that it is almost impossible to find out that these are due to Vitamin B12 deficiency. Impaired thinking, dizziness, and being tired all the time can be early signs that you need to look out for.
2. Pale skin
If you’ve been told that your usual glowing rosy skin looks pale and dull, it could be due to the deficiency of Vitamin B12. When Vitamin B12 levels go down, the fragile red blood cells break causing a release of bilirubin
pigments that give the skin a yellowish tinge.
3. Anxiety and Depression
If any and everything makes you anxious and sad, it can be due to a low level of Vitamin B12 in your body. Deficiency of Vitamin B12 is closely linked to depression
and anxiety. Experts don’t know exactly why the deficiency causes depression. But it may have something to do with the fact that Vitamin B12 is involved in the synthesis of brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, that help to regulate your mood.
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Feeling weak and out of energy can be a sign that your body is overworked. But it can also be a sign that your body is lacking essential nutrients. When your muscles don’t get enough red blood cells, they feel tired and sluggish. A dip in the red blood cells is caused due to lack of Vitamin B12. Thus, if you feel tired all the time and notice other symptoms as well, you might want to consult your doctor about Vitamin B12 deficiency.
5. Signs of dementia
Forgetting simple things like ‘where have I kept the keys?’ or are trying hard to remember your colleague’s name can be blamed on aging
. But you’ll be surprised to know that Vitamin B12 deficiency can also show signs of early dementia. Experts also believe that often symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency are confused at dementia. Thus, it is recommended that patients with unexplained cognitive decline must be tested for Vitamin B12 deficiency.
A lot of people who complain about being dizzy and wobbly while walking or climbing up/down stairs were Vitamin B12 deficient. Your body relies upon vitamins to make oxygen and lack of oxygen can lead to low energy. This can cause dizziness and fatigue.
7. Tingling sensation
A lot of people who suffer from Vitamin B12 deficiency get a tingling sensation in the feet and hands. Many of them also complain of ringing in their ears. Numbness, pins and needles, and strange sensations are often accompaniments of Vitamin B12 deficiency. These weird pains result due to nerve damage which is triggered by low oxygen levels in the body. Taking a diet rich in Vitamin B12 sources or taking B12 supplements can help you keep these weird sensations at bay.
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8. Vision problems
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause various vision problems like sensitivity to light, double vision, blurry vision, and low vision. If the deficiency is not detected on time, it can damage the optic nerve.
9. Mouth ulcers
Mouth ulcers and a red swollen tongue can be signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency. These changes are caused by deficiency-related changes in blood flow, and can show years after the depletion has set in.
If you both these signs coupled with a rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations, you must consult your doctor. A simple blood test will reveal whether you are deficient of Vitamin B12 or not.
Top 10 Health Benefits of Vitamin B12
- Helps boost energy levels
- Helps keep depression at bay
- Plays an important role in protein metabolism
- Helps in maintaining the health of nerve cells
- Helps manage cholesterol and thus aiding in improving heart health
- May prove helpful in Alzheimer’s treatment
- Aids in digestion
- Promotes skin health & wellness
- Promotes hair health
- Is Good for healthy nails
Experts say that many times it becomes difficult to identify the signs and associate them with B12 deficiency. But it is always good to know the symptoms of deficiency of Vitamin 12. Make sure you eat a healthy and nutritional diet. Include foods rich in Vitamin B12. And please consult your doctor in case you want to start taking Vitamin B12 supplements.