Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin B12 deficiency may be a result of the body’s inability to absorb the vitamin or insufficient amount of the said nutrient in the diet. Vitamin B12, also known as Cobalamin, is a water soluble compound that is important in maintaining normal body processes. It is involved in formation of healthy red blood cells in the body, production of DNA in cells, repair of damaged cells and tissues, and protection of myelin sheath for normal nerve functioning.
The human body can store the vitamin for three to five years.This the reason why Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms occur late. The manifestations do not appear until the vitamin reserves are diminished. Common manifestations include pale skin, activity intolerance, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, and heart palpitations. All these symptoms are brought about by the decreased amount of circulating red blood cells that play a vital role in the delivering oxygen to all parts of the body. Oxygen is needed for energy and normal cell activities. Furthermore, this deficiency, if left neglected, can lead to other serious health problems. The most common disorder associated with the lack of this vitamin is Pernicious Anemia.
Since the vitamin is also essential in formation of myelin sheath in nerve cells, nervous system can also be affected. Nerve cells are prone to damage without healthy myelin sheath. Pricking sensation in both hands and feet, numbness, and unsteady gait can be present. Worse, depression, confusion, and memory loss can occur.
Vitamin B12 requirement is increased in pregnant women, especially during the first trimester of the pregnancy. The compound plays a big role in development of the vital organs in the fetus. Inadequate amount of this nutrient can lead to neural tube defects in babies.
The most common causes of this condition are digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease. Surgical removal of stomach or part of the small intestine can also be a cause. B12 is only absorbed in the body once it binds with the intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein contained in stomach secretions. Hence, disorders affecting the stomach and digestive system such as those mentioned above or removal of the organ definitely interferes with the absorption of this important vitamin. Those who fail to consume foods containing high amounts of this vitamin are prone to having this insufficiency as well.
Daily intake of Vitamin B12 is highly recommended. Certain foods offer this vitamin. Animal products such as pork, poultry, liver, egg, and milk are rich in this nutrient. Plants do not contain this vitamin, hence those who follow vegan diet are prone to having the condition. The vitamin is also available in dietary supplements.
The primary treatment of this condition is adding adequate amount of the vitamin in the diet. Supplements can be recommended. In patients with digestive disorders, treatment is focused on the disorder itself, since it is the main cause. Deficiency is resolved once the disorders causing it are already treated. In cases like removal of the stomach, proper diet and supplements will not work. B12 is never absorbed anyway. Thus, lifetime injection of the vitamin is the best option.Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms,
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