Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia Symptoms, Causes, Treatments
1. Functions of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 serves various very important functions in human body. It works in collaboration with B vitamin folate to form human body’s genetic material. In addition it helps maintain levels of amino acid homocysteine that could help minimize the risk of heart diseases. It is also essential in generating red blood cells. Red blood cells supply oxygen via blood to the tissues of the human body.
2. Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
There could be various numbers of possible causes for deficiency of this vitamin. Normally it occurs in people whose digestive systems are unable to absorb the proper amount of this vitamin from the nutrition they use. Some general causes of this situation are:
- Due to Pernicious anemia that is a condition in which is caused by the lack of a protein called intrinsic factor. This protein is made in the stomach. It is necessary for vitamin B12 absorption.
- Due to Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs.
- Due to Atrophic gastritis which is a thinning of the stomach lining that affects up to 30% of people aged 50 and older.
- Due to surgery in which part of the stomach and/or small intestine is removed.
- Due to such conditions that affects the small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite.
- Due to excessive alcohol consumption.
- Due to autoimmune disorders, such as Grave’s disease or systemic lupus erythematosus
The deficiency of this vitamin can be found in vegetarians. The reason being the best food sources for this vitamin are animal products. People who do not use any animal products, including meat, eggs, or milk are at much greater risk. In addition vegetarians who eat eggs and milk products are also at risk because, on average, they consume less than half the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12. Also babies born to mothers who are vegetarians may also be deficient in vitamin B12.
3. What Are B12 Deficiency Symptoms?
The deficiency of vitamin B12 is very commonly found. It is really possible for human body to become deficient in vitamin B12 if daily diet does not contain required amount of vitamin B12. Some vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are mentioned below that one should always watch out for.
- · Common Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
You are likely to experience one or more of these common symptoms if you are having a B12 deficiency. Unexplained fatigue, problems with digestion, no or decreased appetite, nausea and irregular or complete lack of menstruation are some of the common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. If you are experiencing one or more than one of these symptoms, there is a high possibility that you are suffering from a B12 deficiency and you must not hesitate to check a doctor as soon as possible.
- · Other Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
Some other symptoms are also associated with vitamin B12 deficiency and they are rather difficult to diagnose or they may not be experienced by everyone because everyone is not the same. Some of these include numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, diarrhea, mild depression, behavioral changes, frequent upper respiratory infections, impotence, impaired memory, sore tongue, fever and paranoia. Sometimes it is possible that you do not experience these symptoms but you might still be having vitamin B12 deficiency.
4. Foods that are high in B12
Some of the foods that are high in vitamin B12 are liver, chicken giblets, kidney, egg yolks, dried beans, split peas, lentils, soy products, nuts and almonds, wholegrain, breads, wheat flour, potato and sweet potato, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, oranges and peaches. Your food and diet should have a good amount of these food products to make sure that you avoid deficiency of this vitamin. Drinking alcohol regularly, using birth control pills and certain medical conditions are known to increase chances of you experience deficiency of this important vitamin.
5. Do Symptoms Always Indicate Deficiency?
This is very important to note that symptoms of deficiency might not actually mean that you have deficiency of this vitamin. Sometimes they can be caused by other serious health conditions like Lupus or Lyme’s disease. It is strongly advised to visit your physician if you experience any of these deficiency symptoms. Vitamin B12 deficiency can be really dangerous so it is good to find it out early to avoid future complications. In addition it is good to consume such foods those are high in this vitamin and taking a vitamin supplement so that this does not become a problem in future for your health.