Vitamin B12 deficiency and its warning signs

Vitamin B12 deficiency and its warning signs

Human Body is a complex mix of various minerals, vitamins and nutrients which are an exhaustive list to be mentioned. Among the vitamins that we know by name there is a group which has extensive numbers that are the most essential ones for us. Thus group is known as Vitamin B complex, and has subdivisions in the name of Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Biotin (B7), Folate Or 'folic Acid' (B9), and Cyanocobalamin (B12) that work in harmony to carry out their duties.

Each of these B vitamins serve important functions in the body and here we are going to discuss the importance of Vitamin B12 and the symptoms of its deficiency.

Cyanocobalamin or B12 as it is known, is needed by the human body to generate red blood cells, DNA, nerves, cell metabolism, and to carry out other important physiological and psychological functions. Vitamin B12 processes energy in your body's cells making it absolutely necessary for life. The RDA (Recommended daily intake) of B12 for an average adult is 2.4 micrograms. Like most other vitamins, Vitamin B12 cannot be made by the human body and hence has to be induced through diet or supplements. 

Vitamin B12 is also difficult to be absorbed by the body because it is dependent on a chemical located in the stomach called "intrinsic factor" that processes it, and anything affecting the body’s ability to produce that chemical can lead to malabsorption of vitamin B12, causing its deficiency. 

Common causes of B12 deficiency are:

  • Having an inflammatory disease that affects the stomach causing a lack in the vital intrinsic factor necessary for vitamin B12 absorption.
  • Being a vegetarian or a vegan who doesn't eat dairy products and animal products, which are high in B12 composition.
  • Consuming diabetes medication metformin that negatively affects B12 levels.

Any discomfort or disease in the human body always shows up in the form of certain symptoms  that play an essential role in identifying the disease and curing it. Likewise Vitamin B12 deficiency also gives various warning signs including:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Anemia or pale skin color
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the hands, legs or feet.   
  • Difficulty walking or losing balance
  • Swollen, inflamed tongue
  • Cognitive difficulties or memory loss
  • Hair fall

These symptoms are quite similar to that of Iron deficiency Anemia and many other diseases making it quite confusing to diagnose. B12 deficiency symptoms may also take a lot of time to develop, and intensify before they are actually visible. 

It is advised to talk to your doctor about having your Vitamin B12 level checked if you are experiencing any of these symptoms to authenticate if they have any relation with this vitamin’s unavailability in the body. If left untreated for a long time the deficiency can lead to severe neurological problems and diseases such as "pernicious anemia", therefore early diagnosis and treatment is crucial.

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