Cobalamin, which is commonly known as vitamin B12, is an important water-soluble vitamin.
It plays a vital role to create the red blood cells and DNA, as well as the proper functioning of the nervous system.
Vitamin B12 is naturally occurring in animal foods, such as meats, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy. It’s also found in products fortified with B12, which is common in some types of bread and plant-based milk.
Unfortunately, the B12 deficiency is quite common, especially in the older age groups. You’re prone to the risk of deficiency if you don’t get the recommended quantities from your diet or aren’t able to absorb them enough from the food you consume.
People at risk of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency Include:
- The elderly
- People who’ve had surgery that removes the bowel that absorbs B12
- People who take drug metformin for diabetes
- People following a vegan diet
- People who consume antacid drugs for heartburn chronically.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to show, and diagnosing it might be complex. A B12 deficiency can also be mistaken for a folate deficiency.
Reduced levels of B12 lead to a drop in your folate levels. However, if you are B12 deficit, rectifying low folate levels may simply veil the deficiency and fail to fix the underlying issue.
Here are signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency:
Jaundiced or Pale Skin
People suffering from a B12 deficiency might have a slight yellow tinge in the whites of the eyes and the skin. This condition is known as jaundice.
This happens when there are low levels of B12 which lead to problems with your body’s RBC production.
Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the DNA needed to produce red blood cells. Without it, the instructions for creating the cells are incomplete, and cells are unable to split.
Weakness and Fatigue
Weakness and fatigue are the common symptoms of the vitamin B12 deficiency.
You suffer from it because your body doesn’t contain enough vitamin B12 to create RBC, which carry oxygen throughout your body.
Ultimately, you are unable to efficiently carry oxygen to the body’s cells, making you feel weak and tired.
People suffering from pernicious anemia don’t produce sufficient amounts of an important protein which is known as the “intrinsic factor.”
“Intrinsic factor” is essential in preventing a vitamin B12 deficiency, as it binds with the B12 in your gut which allows you to absorb it.
Sensations of Pins and Needles
A more serious side effect of a chronic B12 deficiency is nerve damage.
This problem can occur over time, as vitamin B12 is the prime contributor to the metabolic pathway that manufactures the fatty substance myelin. Myelin engulfs your nerves as a form of insulation and protection. Without B12, myelin forms differently, and your nervous system isn’t able to function properly.
A common sign of this occurring is known as “paresthesia”, which is similar to the prickling sensation in the hands and feet. People suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency can take Solgar supplements that provide the body with the required levels of the B12.
Changes to Mobility
If untreated, the damage to the nervous system caused by the B12 deficiency could lead to changes to the way a person walks and moves.
It may affect your coordination and balance, making you more prone to falling.
Vitamin B12 deficiency’s quite common and can occur in many ways, making it difficult to diagnose.
A vitamin B12 deficiency is easily eliminated easily by making sure you are including enough B12 in your diet.