The symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency affect a large number of people today. Generally speaking, B12 deficiency rarely occurs due to lower consumption of foods rich in Vitamin B12; in most cases it is caused by the inability of the body to absorb the vitamin properly. There can be different causes for this problem and this deficiency has to be treated as soon as possible because it may severely damage the brain and nerve tissue if it is ignored. Keep in mind that the best way to tell if someone is suffering from this type of deficiency is by doing some blood tests.
Vitamin B12 deficiency – What is it?
There is no doubt about the importance and benefits of this particular vitamin for the red blood cells formation and the healthy functioning of the brain and nerve system. When the B12 levels in the blood are lowered we can say that we have a case of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Once more we have to mention the importance of the treatment because of the complications mentioned above.
Early Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency
Early identification of the symptoms allows us to react in time and eliminate the possible health complications at their initial stages.
The early B12 deficiency symptoms are:
- loss of appetite or nausea
- menstruation problems in women
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
When we start talking about the symptoms of B12 deficiency we have to mention its relationship with pernicious anemia. This disease causes the parietal cells of the stomach to be destroyed. And now you may ask – How is this connected with the deficiency of Vitamin B12? Well, the function of parietal cells is to secrete intrinsic factor which is very important for the normal absorption of vitamin B12. This means that low intrinsic factor leads to vitamin B12 deficiency.
It is interesting to know that the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency don’t appear immediately, it usually takes several months or even a year for the symptoms to start developing. This is mainly because vitamin B12 is stored in our body.
- Anemia (pernicious anemia)
- A sense of fatigue and weakness
- loss of appetite and weight loss
- numbness and tingling in the arms or legs
- inflamed and shiny looking sore tongue
- digestive problems
- frequent infections of the upper-respiratory tract
- depression and confusion
- poor concentration and memory or memory loss
- behavioral and mood changes
Please note that the lack of vitamin B12 is most positively detected by blood tests or by the Schilling test.
Who is at risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
As in any other disease or condition there are some groups of people which are at greater risk of being affected due to many different reasons. This is also the case with vitamin B12 deficit, so the following groups of people have greater chances to experience the vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms if they don’t do anything to prevent it.
People affected with Pernicious anemia
There is a close connection between pernicious anemia and vitamin b12 deficiency. One of the important roles of Vitamin B12 is in the development and functioning of red blood cells. This type of anemia can be described as a reduction of the number of red blood cells caused by the inability of our body to absorb the vitamin B12 from the intestines. This means that the Vitamin B12 absorption problems directly affect the creation of red blood cells and the lower number of red blood cells leads to anemia.
Vegans are prone to vitamin b12 deficiency mainly because of their eating habits, i.e. animal products are best vitamin B12 sources. For that reason they have to use vitamin B12 supplements or consume B12 fortified foods.
Adults over 50
One third of adults over 50 years old suffer from atrophic gastritis. This process reduces the ability of the body to absorb vitamin B12 from natural sources. However, vitamin B12 supplements are synthetic and atrophic gastritis doesn’t affect their absorption so they have to be included in the treatment.
Other groups of people are people having gastrointestinal problems (Celiac or Crohn’s disease) or those who have had some type of gastrointestinal surgery.