Deficiency of certain vitamins has become common among men and women aged 25 to 55 in the last decade and the two very common deficiency vitamins are vitamin B12 and vitamin D. If vitamin B12 deficiency is left untreated, it can cause many health threats like anemia, fatigue, muscle weakness, intestinal problems, nerve damage, and mood disturbances. Furthermore, it can result in serious health problems. Surprisingly, nutritional deficiencies are seen mostly in urban lifestyles. According to studies, over 650 million people in India are vitamin B12 deficient. So, let's learn more about this B vitamin.
An intro to Vitamin B12
Eight B vitamins make up the B complex, and vitamin B12 is one of them. It is a water-soluble vitamin like others. Vitamin B12 contains the mineral cobalt and is hence called cobalamin. The main function of cobalamin in your body is metabolism. Vitamin B12 is crucial as it is essential for the development, myelination, and function of the central nervous system, healthy red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, and DNA synthesis. Never underestimate Vitamin B12, as it is required for the healthy function and development of many organs of the body. Vitamin B12 is required by your brain, nerves, and blood cells.
It is the only vitamin that must be sourced from animal-derived foods, certain dairy products, or supplements. Vitamin B12 is commonly advised for mouth ulcers, cataracts, Alzheimer disease, osteoporosis, fatigue, and many other conditions.
Plant foods don't contain vitamin B12. Foods such as meat, fish, and dairy contain vitamin B12. You can also get this essential vitamin in fortified breakfast cereals, drinks, and as an oral supplement. Older adults and people with digestive tract conditions are susceptible to vitamin B-12 deficiency due to their poor ability to absorb nutrients.
As per sources, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Indian men and women ages 14 years and older is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) daily. For pregnant women and women in lactation, the amount increases to 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg daily, respectively.
A blood test is the best way to determine if you are vitamin B12 deficient, as the symptoms differ from person to person. By taking the test, you can actually determine the difference and the course of treatment you need to undergo. A regular health checkup is always a good idea, but symptoms can be alarming.
Factors that cause vitamin B12 deficiency
Animal products. People who are vegetarians and vegans are at risk of becoming deficient in vitamin B12, since it is not found in plants but in animal products. As per several studies, vegetarians have low vitamin B blood levels. Hence, vegetarian or vegan diets should include B12-fortified foods, multivitamin supplements, or a B12 supplement in their plans. This is particularly important for pregnant women, as the fetus requires adequate vitamin B12 for neurologic development, and a deficiency can lead to permanent neurological damage.
Poor intrinsic factor
Pernicious anemia, an autoimmune disease, has the potential to destroy gut cells, resulting in the absence of the intrinsic factor, which is required for vitamin B12 absorption. Hence, a vitamin B12 deficiency occurs. Even the use of a high-dose B12 supplement will not solve the problem, as in the absence of the intrinsic factor, even a high dose of vitamin B12 won’t help.
In the case of stomach surgeries and certain diseases, including Crohn’s and celiac disease, that negatively impact the digestive tract, this also increases the risk of deficiency.
A much more common cause of B12 deficiency, especially in older people, is a lack of stomach acid, because stomach acid is needed to liberate vitamin B12 from food. Adults over the age of 50 have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 from food. People who regularly take medications that suppress stomach acid for conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or peptic ulcer disease may have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 from food. These drugs can slow the release or decrease the production of stomach acid. Anyone using these medications for an extended period of time and who is at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency for other reasons should be monitored closely by their physician. They may also choose to supplement with vitamin B12, as these forms are typically well absorbed and do not require stomach acid.
Signs of deficiency may include
Different types of anemia, like aplastic anemia, Pernicious anemia, vitamin deficiency anemia, etc.
Numbness and tingling in the hands and legs
Memory loss, foggy mind, depression
In acute conditions, it can be dementia.
Skin rashes and itching mainly in older age group people
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, so any excess amount will be excreted from the body through the urine. As per the Institute of Medicine, no adverse effects have been associated with excess vitamin B12 intake from food or supplements in healthy individuals. However, in serious conditions or with an acute health condition, it is recommended that you consult your doctor.
Vitamin B12 is available in multivitamin supplements, in supplements containing other B-complex vitamins, and in supplements containing only vitamin B12. In severe deficiency of Vitamin B12, it can be administered by intramuscular injection. If initially taken care of with a proper diet and supplements, the severity can be avoided. For that, you need to have a look at your bodily changes, symptoms, and regular health checkups.
Vitamin B12 can be taken along with other vitamins and minerals for faster and better results. In multivitamin supplements, they add vitamins in the right amount to fulfil your nutritional needs. Tuskca Multivitamin is one of the best-selling multivitamin supplements and contains 27 essential nutrients. The best feature of this product is that it is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. It's sugar-free and contains no harmful ingredients.
If you are feeling low, lack energy, a dose of vitamin B complex supplementation is often touted to boost energy levels and mood. Because these B vitamins help make healthy blood cells and can correct anemia.
Vegetarians and vegans are more susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency. Fortified foods and vitamin supplements can reduce the risk of not meeting vitamin B12 needs.