Vitamin b12 Deficiency Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

An Awareness of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

As is obvious from the name, vitamin B12 deficiency refers to low levels of Vitamin B12 in the body. Vitamin B12 has a lot of vital qualities as do other vitamins. It is a water soluble vitamin and has one of the most complex structures amongst all the vitamins and is involved in the healthy functioning of brain, nervous system and the red blood cells. In fact it affects the metabolism of every single cell in the body.

Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the synthesis and regulation of DNA and even in the synthesis of the fatty acids to produce energy. Vitamin B12 is abundantly available in the normal food products that we consume daily. Almost 2 – 5 mg of Vitamin B12 is stored in an average adult human body and most of it is found in the liver. Only 0.1% of it is daily lost in the gut and is not absorbed back again.

Vitamin B12 Circulation in the Body

Vitamin B12 is mostly secreted in the form of bile but then it is reabsorbed in the body. This is due to a process known as the enterohepatic circulation. It is because of this natural efficient circulation that our liver is able to store Vitamin B12 for many years; therefore it is not very often that someone suffers from vitamin B12 deficiency. The onset of this deficiency wholly depends upon the circulation of vitamin B12 in the body – how much is consumed through diet, then secreted and then reabsorbed.

Most commonly then, vitamin B12 deficiency results in those people who have some illnesses or diseases that disables them from absorbing this vitamin from the normal food products. Another reason behind Vitamin B12 deficiency is old age because it is more commonly seen in people older than 51 years of age. And unlike other common vitamin deficiencies it is seldom that vitamin B12 deficiency results from improper food intake.

Although this deficiency occurs rarely, it is important to keep a check of Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms; because this deficiency can lead to some serious health risks like,

  • Anemia (Pernicious anemia results most commonly from this deficiency and if gone untreated could prove to be fatal or it could result in permanent damage to nervous tissue),
  • Nerve damage,
  • Growth abnormalities,
  • And gastrointestinal problems.

All of these problems can be effectively treated if the vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are detected well in time. Below are listed some of the common Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms which everyone should be aware of.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

Not all symptoms or the same combination of vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms will inhibit everyindividual; in fact they can easily vary because of the severity of the deficiency, the cause behind it, the duration of this deficiency and some other factors.

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are usually ambiguous and can take many years to develop which is why there is an increased chance of missing them out or not noticing at all when the deficiency actually starts in the body.

Some of the vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms might be due to loss of or reduced production of the red blood cells in the body, while other symptoms can affect the gastrointestinal tract or the cardiovascular system. Following are the vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms that can occur individually or in combination with others.

  1. Pain in the chest,
  2.  Increased heart palpitation,
  3. Constipation,
  4. Dizziness,
  5. General fatigue or weakness,
  6. Numbness in the hands or feet or both,
  7. Jaundice,
  8. Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss,

Some of the psychological symptoms include,

  1. Depression,
  2. Irritability,
  3. Confusion,
  4. Lack of concentration,
  5. Development of suicidal tendencies,
  6. Partial loss of memory,
  7. Possible mania or psychosis or
  8. Trouble maintaining the balance.

These were some of the vague vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms; let’s have a look at its causes.

Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

It is seldom that Vitamin B12 deficiency can result from eating improper diet, however it can happen but the more common causes of vitamin B12 deficiency are those illnesses or diseases which hinder the digestion or absorption of this vitamin in the body.

The conditions in which this deficiency becomes more likely are,

  • Atrophic Gastritis

In this condition the lining of the stomach is inflamed, becoming thin and thereby preventing the reabsorption of this vitamin from the bile.

  • Celiac Disease

In this disease damage to intestines result from a sensitivity that develops towards gluten which is present in all of the grains.

  • Crohn’s Disease

This is again a disease in which the intestines can get damaged due to inflammation.

  • Pernicious Anemia

This results from atrophic gastritis.

  • Surgery

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also result from surgical removal of any part of either stomach or intestine.

  • Medications

Vitamin B12 absorption is also affected by certain medicines; for instance the ones given for the treatment of diabetes, peptic ulcers and acid reflux.

  • Vegetarian Diet

Vegans or people who are on a strict vegetarian diet also have a chance of developing vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms as they do not take meat, eggs, fish or any of the dairy products. Pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers who are on such a diet are also under the same risk and so are their infants.

Treatment of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Most of the problems arising from vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated; however prevention is better than cure, which is why a healthy diet that supplies an adequate daily dose of vitamin B12 should be taken daily. For prevention one must take,

  • A diet of vitamin B12 rich foods which include any of the meats like red meat, poultry or fish. Dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt etc. also provide Vitamin B12.
  • Certain cereals which have been fortified with Vitamin B12 as they are also easily available.
  • Vitamin B12 supplements after consulting with the physician if at all it is required because it is usually given to people who suffer from low levels of Vitamin B12.

If someone is suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency or the complications resulting from it then it can be treated. Successful cure can only result if vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms get detected soon, and the problems diagnosed immediately. The most effective way of overcoming this shortage is by providing the body with more vitamin B12. Some of the ways that can be done are,

  • Giving the patient injections of Vitamin B12. In those cases where vitamin B12 deficiency is resulting from the body’s inability to absorb Vitamin B12, this treatment is given for the rest of the life.
  • If the deficiency has not reached severity then it can be administered orally as well or through a nasal spray or directly absorbed by placing under the tongue.
  • Taking a vitamin B12 diet besides the medication.
  • In cases where vitamin B12 deficiency is resulting from some illness or disease, then steps are taken to cure that disease to remove the cause.

In this article you have received information on how to detect vitamin B12 deficiency in yourself or your family members by assessing the vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms. Immediate attention by a qualified physician should be given to such symptoms.

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