Vitamin B12, known as cobalamin, is an important water-soluble vitamin which plays a vital role in the proper functioning of your body. It is essential for the production of red blood cells and DNA and without it, your nervous system won’t work properly. A Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anaemia, a condition in which your body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Without enough red blood cells, your tissues and organs don’t get enough oxygen. Without enough oxygen, your body can’t work as well.
Vitamin B12 also maintains your immune system and keeps your brain healthy. In fact, your metabolism won’t run smoothly if your body lacks vitamin B12. Sadly, vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common, especially in the elderly. You’re at risk of deficiency if you don’t get enough from your diet or aren’t able to absorb enough from the food you eat.
What can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency?
Your body might not be able to absorb enough vitamin B12 due to lack of Intrinsic Factor, a protein produced in the stomach, often as a result of chronic gastritis. Another cause can be a surgery that removes or bypasses the end of the small intestine, where vitamin B12 is absorbed. Conditions that affect your small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth or a parasitic infection can also lead to a deficiency of vitamin B12.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include weak muscles weak, having trouble walking and aching muscles. You might also experience unhealthy weight loss, decreased appetite, nausea, numbness or tingling sensation in hands and feet. A person with vitamin B12 deficiency may also feel a lack of energy and tiredness even if they’re well rested and might experience unusually fast heart beat.
Get Yourself Checked
If you suspect that you are vitamin B12 deficient, get yourself checked by your doctor. While the condition is harmful for your body, it is easily treatable. Your doctor will do a physical and a blood examination to diagnose the condition and recommend a treatment plan based on the diagnosis.
Treatment And Prevention
Usually, vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is easy to treat with diet and vitamin supplements. Vitamin B12 supplements come in capsules and nasal sprays. If your vitamin B12 level is very low, your doctor might also recommend vitamin B12 shots. Depending on what is causing the deficiency, you might need to take these shots for the rest of your life.
Adjust your diet to include foods that are rich in vitamin B12, such as beef, chicken, liver, fish like salmon and trout, eggs and yoghurt. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, then fortified breakfast cereals, soy products and yeast extracts are some foods that will give you a good amount of vitamin B12.
The Bottom Line
If you’re at risk and have any of the symptoms above, speak to your doctor. For most people, making small changes in your diet and lifestyle will go a long way and helps to keep your body healthy. And if you are diagnosed with a vitamin B12 deficiency, do not wait for things to get worse. Start your treatment immediately. After all, real wealth is in health.
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