B12 Deficiency Symptoms – What You Must Watch Out For
Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin is a water soluble vitamin that contributes to the functioning of several metabolic processes. This nutrient plays a key role in DNA synthesis and helps maintain healthy red blood cells. It also ensures the proper functioning of the neurological system, promotes nerve cell growth, and supports protein metabolism. Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms include depression, mild memory impairment, nerve damage, and anemia.
Benefits of Vitamin B12
Many individuals take vitamin B12 supplements to get the energy they need to perform their daily activities. This water soluble vitamin speeds up the metabolism, reduces fatigue, and helps the body metabolize fat more efficiently. Studies have shown that vitamin B12 promotes emotional well-being and reduces the risk of depression.
As a dietary supplement, vitamin B12 is used for treating anemia, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, stress-related anxiety, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease. Osteoarthritis, bursitis, diabetes, and heart disease patients could also benefit from taking B12 supplements. This nutrient increases serotonin levels, which helps prevent d
epression and other psychiatric disorders.
Sources of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is mainly found in dairy products, meat, and fish. For this reason vegans and vegetarians are more likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms. This nutrient is present in yogurt, eggs, kidney, liver, salmon, oysters, sardines, crabmeat, and scallops. Individuals who do not eat meat or dairy products can opt for vegan foods fortified with vitamin B12, including meat substitutes, nutritional yeast, and soy milk. Some sea vegetables, such as nori, komba, and dulse contain this vitamin as well.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Recent studies have shown that over 40 percent of people suffer from some degree of vitamin B12 deficiency. This medical condition occurs when the digestive system is not able to absorb vitamin B12. Individuals who suffer from Crohn’s disease, pernicious anemia, or rare congenital disorders are more likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency. Those who have undergone subtotal gastrectomy are at risk too.
Researchers have found that this medical condition causes important changes to the metabolism of homocysteine and methylmalonic acid, which leads to nervous fibers decay. People diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency may experience numbness or tingling in their fingers, depression, muscle weakness, bleeding gums, tiredness, dementia, and digestive problems. Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are non-specific, which is why this medical condition often goes undiagnosed.
Pernicious anemia or Biermer’s disease is the main syndrome of vitamin B12 deficiency. This disease causes low blood pressure, jaundice, impaired urination, frequent diarrhea, and gastric cancer. Individuals with vitamin B12 deficiency typically present gastrointestinal problems due to defective DNA synthesis. They may also experience rapid heartbeat, migraines, neurological damage, sore tongue, and psychosis. Damage to the optic nerve, hallucinations, and confusion may occur as well.
This medical condition can be treated with vitamin B12 supplements. Depending on the underlying cause of the deficiency, dietary improvements may be needed. Individuals diagnosed with pernicious anemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency require lifelong vitamin B12 supplementation. Early diagnosis and adequate treatment can limit the complications of this disorder.