Vitamin B12 deficiency : symptoms and causes

vitamin B12

This post is about one of the essential vitamins (from the micronutrient family), Vitamin B12 , its deficiency and its causes.

Lets clear our basics first. Think about the A/C at your home or office. It requires electricity to run. Sometimes, you have to get it serviced to smoothen its functionality and its life longevity.
Just like electricity, our body also needs something to run on. This ‘something’ is called as nutrients. A sufficient amount of nutrients makes sure that our body functions well, and we live a good, disease-free, and happy life.

Nutrients

The required nutrients are of two types, namely, ‘macro-nutrient’ and ‘micro-nutrient’. As names suggest, the macro-nutrients are required in large quantities as compared to micro-nutrients. Carbohydrates, protein, and fats are macro-nutrients. They give us energy in bulk. Vitamins and minerals are required in a smaller quantity and therefore categorised as micro-nutrients. There are more such micro-nutrients which are vital in nature. They support our body differently; For example, vitamin D is responsible for stronger bones and teeth.

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Vitamin B12

This Vitamin is responsible for smooth brain functionality, thereby maintaining the smooth functioning of our nervous system.

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The Vitamin also helps in making red blood cells in our body. We know that the red blood cells transport oxygen in our body. If we do not have the proper amount of this Vitamin, we may feel mental stress and weakness.

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency

Various symptoms can be seen in the person suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency as follows:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Burning in the feet, arms, and legs
  • Tingling
  • Irritation
  • Sore mouth
  • Weakness
  • Impaired vision
  • Confuse state of mind.

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People often think that it is common to have the above symptoms, particularly mental illnesses, and ignore it. However, if such a sign is prolonged, say, for a couple of weeks, it’s better to consult the doctor.  

The deficiency of vitamin B12 is also linked to ‘pernicious anemia.’ It is the loss of intrinsic factor present in our stomach. When the food passes through our intestines and stomach, this factor absorbs vitamin B12 in our body. If the loss of the intrinsic factor goes undetected for a sufficiently long time, the disease can damage our entire nervous system and may also lead to stomach cancer.

Sources of Vitamin B12

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Vitamin B12 is not found in plants. We can get it only from animal products like eggs, chicken, fish, meat, milk and other dairy products, etc. According to a source, beef liver, clams are the best source of B12.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA):

  • Older children: 1.8 mcg
  • Adults: 2.8 mcg
  • Pregnant women: 2.4 mcg
  • Breastfeeding women: 2.8 mcg

Generally, nonveg eaters do have enough amount of B12 in their bodies. Mostly vegetarian and vegan people do lack it as their food is mostly vegetable, fruit-based. They, therefore, may take the supplements of vitamin B12 regularly (or B12-fortified food). As we grow older, the capacity of stomach to absorb B12 reduces.

I hope, this will give you a brief glance of importance of vitamin B12. Please be sure about your vitamin B12 levels and be happy !

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