Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is essential for the formation of red blood cells, for the production of DNA and for the proper functioning and health of nerve tissues.
If not properly treated, a lack of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia and irreversible damage to the nerves and brain.
The human body does not produce vitamin B12, so you need to get it from two possible sources: animal foods or supplements. And it needs to be consumed regularly.
The exact amount of vitamin B12 each person needs depends on their age, diet and health condition.
A lack of vitamin B12
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , about 6% of people over the age of 60 years have vitamin B12 deficiency in the United Kingdom and the United States. Researchers say the lack of this vitamin is much more common in populations in the most needy countries, starting early in life and persisting throughout life.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a wide variety of symptoms that develop gradually in the beginning, and may worsen if the condition is not treated.
A lack of vitamin B12 can be diagnosed based on physical symptoms and also through a blood test. It is important that it is diagnosed and found a way to get it back as soon as possible because, although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition may be irreversible.
Lack of Vitamin E - Symptoms, Cause, Sources and Tips Lack of Vitamin E - Symptoms, Cause, Sources and Tips Lack of Vitamin E -common, especially among older people. A national survey on health and nutrition in the United States has shown that 3.2% of adults over 50 years of age have very low vitamin levels and 20% already have symptoms of the deficiency.
The amount of vitamin B12 we need at different stages of life
According to health research institutes, the amount of vitamin B12 we need daily depends on the age of each person. See recommended daily mean values for different ages( in micrograms, mcg).
Life phase - Recommended amount
- Birth to 6 months: 0.4 mcg
- Infants 7 to 12 months: 0.5 mcg
- Children 1 to 3 years: 0,9 mcg
- Children from 4 to 8 years:1.2 mcg
- Children 9 to 13 years: 1.8 mcg
- Adolescents 14 to 18 years: 2.4 mcg
- Adults: 2.4 mcg
- Adolescents and pregnant women: 2.6 mcg
- Breastfeeding women: 2, 8 mcg
Causes of lack of vitamin B12
There are many causes for vitamin B12 deficiency. Surprisingly, two of these are practices that aim to improve health: the vegetarian diet and surgery for weight loss.
Plants are not sources of vitamin B12.It can only be found in meats, eggs, dairy products and other animal derivatives, foods that are restricted in vegetarian diets and avoided completely by vegans. This group of people is at high risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency if they do not eat vitamin-fortified grains or take vitamin supplements.
People undergoing weight loss surgeries are also more susceptible to lack of vitamin B12 because the operation interferes with the body's ability to extract vitamin B12 from food.
The following conditions may also cause vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Use of drugs for heartburn that reduce acid production in the stomach( Acids are needed for absorption of vitamin B12);
- In the elderly, due to reduced acid production in the stomach;
- Atrophic gastritis, which causes narrowing in the lining of the stomach;
- Pernicious anemia, which makes it difficult for the body to absorb the vitamin;
- Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, bacterial or intestinal parasites;
- Immune system disorders such as lupus;
- Use of heartburn-reducing medications in the long term;
- Babies born to vegetarian mothers also can not get enough vitamin B12;
- The risk of vitamin B12 deficiency also increases with age.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
The illnesses caused by vitamin B12 deficiency in the body may develop slowly, so symptoms gradually appear and intensify over time.
In addition, given the variety of symptoms that disability can cause, the condition can be confused. Therefore, the following symptoms must be taken into account:
- Weakness and fatigue;
- Vertigo and dizziness;
- Palpitations and tachycardia;
- Shortness of breath;
- Wound in tongue with red appearance;
- Nausea or lack of appetite;
- Weight loss;
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes;
- Numbness or tingling in the hands, legs or feet;
- Difficulty walking and balance problems;
- Tongue inflamed or swollen;
- Difficulty in thinking and reasoning or memory loss;
- Paranoia or hallucinations.
How Diagnosis Is Made of Vitamin B12 Missing
Although an experienced physician may be able to detect vitamin B12 deficiency with a good interview and physical examination, blood tests are needed to confirm the condition.
According to Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, affiliated with Harvard, the early detection and treatment of the lack of vitamin B12 is important because "if untreated, deficiency can causeserious neurological problems and blood diseases, "he says.
During the visit, your doctor may suspect vitamin B12 deficiency after checking your family medical history, eating habits, and symptoms. It will be through laboratory tests, however, that he will make the finding.
Anemia is a common symptom of vitamin B-12 deficiency
The body needs vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells, a vitamin deficiency reduces the number of red cells in the blood circulation, resulting in a condition called anemia.
Anemia causes symptoms that include fatigue, fainting, dizziness, headache, pale skin and shortness of breath.
Lack of Vitamin B12 Can Cause Hair Loss
Many different parts of the body need vitamin B12, including liver, eyes, skin and hair. One possible symptom of lack of vitamin B12 is hair loss, because cells need to divide constantly to produce new hair, a process that requires the production of DNA.Without sufficient vitamin B12, the hair stops growing and what is there begins to fall.
When hair loss is accompanied by symptoms of malnutrition and gastrointestinal disorders, one also needs to check the lack of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency in the Skin
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause several other superficial symptoms, including blemishes or skin lesions, or angular stomatitis, a condition characterized by the dryness of the corners of the mouth. Other deficiencies or health conditions can also cause these symptoms, but vitamin B12 deficiency should also be checked.
Prolonged lack of vitamin B12 causes nerve damage
Prolonged vitamin B12 deficiency can cause nerve damage;the first symptoms are tingling sensations in the hands and feet, or increasing degrees of numbness in the limbs.
Over time, damage to nerves that control muscles causes difficulty walking and coordinating movements. Vision problems, including blindness and hallucinations, may also occur.
Nerve damage can also cause, in the long term, depression, memory problems or personality changes.
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is the largest and most complex vitamin currently known to man. A small deficiency of this vitamin can lead to various short-term health conditions and cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system in the long run.
Vitamin B12 can only be found naturally in products of animal origin, however, synthetic forms are available to be added to foods such as cereals.
The main sources for replenishing vitamin B12 are:
- Clams such as clams;
- Red meat;
- Turkey meat;
- Chicken meat;
- Crab Meat;
- Fortified cereals;
- Trout meat;
- Herring Meat.