Vitamin B 12 Deficiency Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment
The Importance of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that performs many crucial functions in the body. One of the most imperative roles of Vitamin B12 is the production of red blood cells - the very same red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. Moreover, Vitamin B12 has the ability to decrease the occurrence of heart disease. Additionally, Vitamin B12 is needed for the proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system. Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.
Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread across the world. There are multiple reasons that may cause this deficiency. The most common causes being;
- Poor Absorption of Vitamin B12 by the digestive system. This is due to the lack of a protein needed for the absorption of this vitamin, known as ‘intrinsic factor’.
- A vegetarian diet. Individuals who follow a strict vegetarian diet are likely to have a vitamin b12 deficiency as animal products tend to have the highest amount of B12.
- Frequent consumption of alcohol.
- Stomach surgery in which the small intestine – or any part of the stomach is removed.
- Disorders pertaining to the small intestine, including; Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
The symptoms of vitamin b12 deficiency are not very obvious at first. As the case of anemia (due to b12 deficiency) gets worse, the following symptoms may be experienced;
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include;
- Fatigue; Lethargy
- Pale, yellow-ish looking skin.
- Weight loss
- A sour mouth/tongue and bleeding gums.
If you find any of the above symptoms then contact your health care practitioner. A blood test can be done to find out the exact cause of these symptoms.
Prevention of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
If you don’t have this deficiency yet, but feel that you may be at a risk, it is crucial that you take the following measures to ensure you don’t experience a deficiency!
- Eat Cereals that are fortified with vitamin B12! (Especially if you follow a vegetarian based diet).
- Eat meats, fish, poultry, and seafood!
- Eat eggs, milk and cheese
- Great vegetarian sources of vitamin b12 are tofu and soy milk.
- Take supplements. Consult your doctor and find out if you should take one and in what dosage.
Treatment of Vitamin B12 Deficiency!
The particular treatment of Vitamin B12 deficiency will heavily depend on the treatment the cause of the deficiency. In most cases, supplementation and injections are required if the deficiency is severe.