Vitamin B12 Deficiency Causes, Symptoms & Prevention Tips
Created by Tanuja Sodhi Updated on May 31, 2020
It may sound bizarre but it’s true, that 7 out of 10 diet and fitness patients for me suffer invariably from vitamin B12 deficiency. All I need to do in order to know is to look at their pale faces and ask them whether they feel listless and low on energy through the day. If the answer is an instant and a firm nod of the head, it’s perhaps the vitamin B12 that is giving them a tough chase! The point I am making here is that B12 is extremely common and rampant in our society today.
What is Vitamin B12 & Why Do We Need It?
Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin is an essential water-soluble vitamin that is commonly found in a variety of foods, such as eggs, fish, shellfish, meat, and dairy products. B12 is responsible for the formation and maturation of red blood cells. It also works with folate to make our body's genetic material. Like most vitamins, the body can’t make B12. Instead, it must be gotten from food or supplements.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Anemia is the final stage of B12 deficiency. Read the blog to learn about signs & symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may include:
- Fatigue, lethargy, weakness or light-headedness
- Memory loss, disorientation
- Muscle weakness, stiffness & tightness of muscles
- Low blood pressure
- Vision problems
- Dementia, psychoses
- Mood disturbances and depression
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing
- Pale skin
- Sore tongue
- Easy bruising or bleeding, including bleeding gums
- Stomach upset and weight loss
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Tingling or numbness in fingers and toes, etc.
Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency typically occurs in people whose digestive systems do not adequately absorb the B12 from the food they eat. Causes of B12 malabsorption include:
- Intestinal dysbiosis (microbial imbalances in the digestive tract, etc)
- Gut inflammation
- Atrophic gastritis (inflammation of stomach mucosa)
- Hypochlorhydria (lack of stomach acids)
- Pernicious anemia (an autoimmune disease)
- Medications (especially acid-suppressing drugs)
- Exposure to nitrous oxide during surgery
- Conditions affecting the small intestine, like celiac disease and Crohn’s disease
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs
Who Is At Risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Since it’s the only vitamin we can’t obtain from plants or sunlight, people at most risks for vitamin B12 deficiency are strict vegetarians and vegans. It occurs in vegetarians because the best food sources of the vitamin are animal products. Others at risk are elderly people aged over 60, breastfed infants and babies born to vegetarian mothers. 
How to Avoid Vitamin B12 Deficiency
A diet that will help in preventing B12 Deficiency in children. Most people can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by consuming certain foods rich in vitamin b12. These are:
- Seafood like shellfish, clams, oysters, lobster, mackerel, tuna and salmon
- Meats like chicken and mutton, especially liver
Some vegetarian sources of vitamin B12 (though weak sources as compared to animal sources) are:
- Dairy products like milk, yogurt, buttermilk and cheese
- Yeast extract spreads (marmite)
- Whey Powder
- Fortified soy milk and tofu
- Fortified cereals
Recommended Daily Dose for Vitamin B12
- Children up to 8 years of age: 0.4 to 0.9 microgram per day.
- Children above 8 years of age: 1.2 to 2.4 micrograms per day.
- Adults over the age of 19: 2.4 micrograms per day.
- Pregnant women: 2.6 micrograms per day.
- Lactating women: 2.8 micrograms per day.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can creep into the body very slowly giving no warning signals for a long time to come. It is also very easy to overlook the condition or confuse it with something else. So, when in doubt, the best idea would be to go for the relevant blood test.
Remember, prevention of vitamin B12 deficiency related complications is easier than the treatment of the same. Sunshine Vitamin: crucial to bone and teeth health in children
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