7 Important Facts About Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Madison Evans

Jul 14, 2022

When it comes to vitamin B12, it's one of the most potent. Deficiencies in this nutrient can have serious consequences for the brain's and immune systems' health. Without it, your body's metabolic processes would be sluggish. Contrary to popular belief, vitamin B12 is unique among the family of B vitamins. Only animal items, such as eggs, meat, seafood, and dairy, contain this substance.

Vegetarians, those with celiac disease or other digestive difficulties, and those over 50 are more likely to be deficient in B12. According to a nutritionist in Los Angeles called Maggie Moon, the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, a quick heartbeat, and brain fog. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes, symptoms, and treatment are all covered in this section.

1. People Who Are Vegetarians Are at Risk

Animal products are a good source of vitamin B12. Because plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and soy are high in iron, you're in danger of iron deficiency. Dietitian Stephanie Middleberg of New York City's Middleberg Nutrition says that vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy should seek to include at least one source per day from each food group. To get enough vitamin B12, vegans must take a supplement or consume fortified foods like cereal and grains, which are fortified with the vitamin. Non-dairy milk and meat replacements are also fortified with B12. However, some of these meals may not be fortified, so check the label first.

2. Old People Are Also at Risk

Middleberg explains that your stomach's acid production decreases as you age, which is problematic for B12 absorption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 31 persons over 50 has a nutritional deficiency. Age-related declines in the elderly's appetite and food intake have been linked to a decrease in the amount of stomach acid produced. Some older adults indeed lose their ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food. Therefore they must supplement their diets with vitamin B12 injections or pills.

3. Weakness and Fatigue Are Common Symptoms

The energy vitamin moniker "B12" isn't just a marketing ploy. Some of the first symptoms of a B12 shortage are feeling tired, disoriented, weak, and a lack of energy. One of the difficulties is that these hints are so imprecise, according to Middleberg, that not everyone interprets them similarly. Most people don't consider getting tested because of many other possible causes. A doctor should be seen to rule out any other possible causes of these symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, she advises. Some of the other symptoms include dizziness, cognitive impairment, and confusion.

4. Heartburn Medications Can Cause It

Stomach acid is required for vitamin B12 absorption and can be suppressed by several prescription heartburn medications. An investigation published in the medical journal JAMA confirms this. Proton pump inhibitors (like Prilosec and Nexium) have been associated with a 65 per cent increased risk of vitamin B12 insufficiency, according to research conducted over two years. A 25 per cent increase in the likelihood of H2 insufficiency is linked to a two-year or longer use of H2 receptor blocker medicines (such as Pepcid and Zantac). A Talk to your doctor if you take these regularly to see if there are any precautions you can take.

5. People Confuse This with Dementia

Memory loss, disorientation, and difficulty thinking and reasoning are all symptoms of a deficit, according to Middleberg. Due to the high prevalence of both in the elderly, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a deficit and dementia. The two conditions are frequently connected, too: According to Moon's research, between 75% and 90% of persons with B12 deficiency also experience neurological symptoms like dementia. However, even if a B12 deficiency affects a younger person, the symptoms are often similar to dementia. B12 deficiency should be examined in people with unexplained cognitive deterioration, according to Moon, an expert in the field.

6. Pernicious Anemia Has Been Connected to It

When you don't get enough B12, you can get a specific type of anaemia that can be fatal. According to Moon, pernicious anaemia is a red blood cell deficit that occurs when the stomach does not produce enough of a protein called intrinsic factor, which aids in the absorption of B12 by the intestine. This anaemia may occur from an immunological disorder, a problem with the digestive tract or even an inheritable illness passed down from generation to generation. Pernicious anaemia B12 injections are the most common form of treatment, while supplements can also be used.

7. Recognizing A Deficiency Might Be A Challenge

It's unlikely that you'll detect early symptoms of B12 insufficiency because the body can store it for three to five years, according to Middleberg. Symptoms like weariness, weakness, and mental fog are often followed by more severe warning signs such as tingling in the extremities, despair, paranoia, and even hallucinations, according to Middleberg. It's difficult to diagnose even at a later stage because of the wide range of symptoms and the fact that not everyone experiences them. A person's B12 deficit can be caused by either malabsorption, which could mean they are absorbing some B12 and the shortfall is occurring more slowly, or by a complete depletion of animal products, which would likely cause the deficiency to grow more quickly.


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