Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the normal functioning of the brain and the nervous system and in the formation of red blood cells. It keeps our body’s nerves & blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material present in all the cells. The extreme level of Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause severe neurological damage if not managed early on.
It is primarily found in animal products such as fish, meat, eggs, and dairy products.
Who is at risk?
- Strict vegetarians and vegans: People who consume no animal sourced food products at all are at a higher risk
- People suffering from digestive tract disorders especially small intestine such as Gastritis, malabsorption syndrome, an inflammatory disorder as it reduces the vitamin absorption in the body.
- People who misuse antacids for a long time for Gastritis: The stomach lining produces acid which helps the breakdown as well as absorption of vitamin B12. Taking Antacids regularly Taking Antacids for stomach ulcers, heartburn, reflux can decrease the acid production, hence slows down B12 absorption.
- People who consume a high amount of Alcohol: More than 2 drinks on average each day can cause gastritis or irritation of the stomach lining, and this can lead to low stomach acid and reduced B12 absorption. B12 is stored in the liver, and alcohol can impair liver function as well.
- People suffering from Pernicious Anemia: It’s a type of anemia and is considered as an autoimmune disorder in which patient lacks a protein known as “Intrinsic Factor” in the stomach that plays a vital role in the absorption of Vitamin B12 in the body.
- Diabetic Patients who are on the drug named Metformin are advised to monitor their levels of vitamin B12. It is known to reduce the Vitamin B12 absorption
- Adults over the age of 50 yrs: Diet and age are the main culprits of vitamin B12 deficiency. With age, the stomach produces less acid, and stomach acid is key for B12 absorption
The range of Vitamin B12 levels
A simple blood test can reveal the levels of Vitamin B12 in one’s body
|Normal||Moderate Deficiency||Severe Deficiency|
|>300 pg/ml||201-300 pg/ml||<201 pg/ml|
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency
The Vitamin B12 deficiency can have varying degrees of health effects depending on an Individual. It can lead to
- Tiredness and fatigue without any explanation
- Tingling and balance issues: prickly feeling in feet & shaky body movements
- Mouth ulcers, red swollen tongue
- Anemia: the production of red blood cells can be severely reduced.
- Severe irreversible neurological damage: disorientation, memory loss, difficulty in thinking and reasoning. These symptoms resemble those of dementia and can be hard to differentiate between the two especially in the elderly group as they are at risk for both; dementia as well as Vitamin B12 deficiency.
What is Pernicious Anaemia?
It is a decrease in red blood cells when the body can’t absorb enough vitamin B12 from our diet. The commonest cause is a weakened stomach lining which lacks a protein known as the Intrinsic factor(IF). If secreted by the stomach is necessary for vitamin B12 absorption, or it could be due to an autoimmune condition like thyroiditis and diabetes type 1. If left untreated it leads to heart failure as the heart struggles to pump enough blood around the body.
Vitamin deficiencies predispose you to a number of health problems. Vitamin B12 Deficiency causes various neurological defects like vision problems, memory loss, ataxia(loss of physical coordination), imbalance. If the deficiency is left untreated these neurological complications can become permanent.
In pregnancy, if a woman is vitamin b12 deficient, it increases the risk of serious neural tube birth defects in the baby. The neural tube is a channel which develops into the spinal cord and brain.
Manage Vitamin B12 Deficiency with Diet
The symptoms of this deficiency usually appear gradually. The presentation of the deficiency is so varied it becomes tough to diagnose it even in its severe mode. It is imperative to eat a diet rich in Vitamin B12.
Choose a healthy diet
You can very well prevent vitamin deficiencies by opting for a healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet with a variety of foods.
Vegetarians can get it via milk, cheese, and yogurt. Non-vegetarians can consume eggs, beef, pork, ham, poultry, lamb, fish, and tuna. For vegans, they may consume foods that are fortified in Vitamin B12 such as cereals and soya milk. Include dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, enriched grain products, such as bread, cereal, pasta and rice, fruits and fresh fruit juices in your daily diet plans.
My22BMI is bringing vitamin B12 deficiency to the front by educating people about the dangers of the B12 deficiency. An estimated 70% of adults in India have vitamin b12 deficiency but the majority of them are never tested or due to the vague symptoms it’s never diagnosed. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes suffering and disability if not intervened at an early stage.
Very commonly the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency is mistaken for aging and often neglected. The deficiency comes in silently and predisposes us to various serious health issues ranging from stroke to heart failure and even cancer. One simple blood test can determine the deficiency.
My22BMI role in educating on Vitamin B12 deficiency
We, at My22BMI, promote early screening especially in women before planning a family, in pregnancy and during breastfeeding as well as senior citizens and people with metabolic syndromes like Diabetes type 1 and type 2. Prevention is better than cure, we specialize in correcting nutritional deficiencies primarily through healthy eating. A good diet with all essential vitamins and minerals are vital for your overall health and brain function. Overcome vitamin B12 deficiency with our customized diet plans and expert opinion.
To know more on the diet to increase Vitamin-B12, refer to the article- https://my22bmi.com/vitamin-b12-the-silent-warrior/
My22BMI is a digital healthcare startup addressing the problem of managing lifestyle diseases through personalized diet plans. My22BMI empower lives to eat healthily and smartly and believe food should be your first medicine. The expert health coaches provide personalized diet plans for heart health, gut health, skin & hair health, weight management, mother & child nutrition and hormonal health.
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