Suffering from vitamin B-12 deficiency? Here's everything you need to know about this important vitamin and what you can do if you are B-12 deficient.
Vitamin B12 also called Cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin. It is one of the rare Vitamins that is not synthesised in the human body. However, it plays a key role in the normal functioning of the nervous system and the formation of the red blood cells.
What puts me at risk of a B12 deficiency?
1. If you are a vegetarian and do not consume animal products like meat, egg or dairy products.
2. Regular alcohol consumption increases the risk of B12 deficiency
Also read about -Are you a heavy drinker? Here's how alcohol is killing your essential nutrients.
3. Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs like Pantoprazole, Ranitidine etc also increases the risk.
4. Babies born to mothers who are vegetarian also stand at risk.
Are there any medical conditions that put me at risk?
1. Atrophic Gastritis- In this condition your stomach lining gets thinner, making you more vulnerable
2. Any surgery that has removed a part of your stomach or small intestine
3. Certain immune disorders can also put you at risk to B12 deficiency
What are the symptoms of VItamin B12 deficiency?
You may feel some of the symptoms mentioned below:
1. You may feel weak, tired or experience lightheadedness
2. You may also feel shortness of breath or heart palpitations
3. A pale skin or smooth tongue are signs of B12 deficiency
4. Other symptoms may include constipation or diarrhoea.
5. Risk of developing Anaemia
Also read about - Anemia Risk Factors, Symptoms and Diagnosis
6. Loss of appetite and Gas
Can it get complicated if left untreated?
While there are supplements that can make up for the B12 deficiency, prolonged ignorance can lead to severe health issues.
1. It can lead to severe and irreparable brain and nerve damage.
2. Nerve problems can manifest into numbness or tingling and muscle weakness
3. It may lead to mental health issues such as memory loss, depression, psychosis etc.
4. There have also been cases of vision loss caused due to the B12 deficiency.
How can Vitamin B12 deficiency be managed?
B12 deficiency is usually caused by certain lifestyle choices over a period of time. Simple changes in the dietary habit can make sure that you dont suffer from this condition. Make sure that your diet contains the necessary portions of meat, eggs and dairy. If you are a vegetarian- consult your doctor for the necessary Vitamin B12 supplements.
Article by Dr. Amanullah Baig, M.B.B.S
Consultant Physician, CallHealth