Vitamin B12 Deficiencies
A Vitamin B12 deficiency is a reduction due to drug interactions, inadequate absorption or restrictive food intake.
What are the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency?
Symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite and weight loss. Advanced symptoms include neurological changes such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. More severe symptoms involve loss of memory, difficulty in maintaining balance, depression and confusion.
How does Vitamin B12 deficiency occur?
Deficiency occurs when the body either cannot absorb the B12, no matter how much is consumed, or an insufficient amount is consumed. The causes can vary: vegetarian/vegan diets, stomach restructuring (bariatric surgery), aging, pregnancy and several gastric disorders.
Who is at risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency?
Vegetarians/vegans are at risk, due to insufficient intake: best sources of Vitamin B12 are animal proteins. Pregnant women who follow strict vegetarian/vegan diets put themselves and their unborn babies at risk for deficiency. Individuals with certain gastric disorders, including Crohn's and celiac disease, are at risk, due to poor absorption. Individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery, due to the loss of gastric cells needed to synthesize Vitamin B12. Individuals with peptic ulcer disease, and those taking certain OTC medications for the condition are at risk, as are diabetics using the drug Metformin.
Individuals with pernicious anemia, a disorder that occurs when there is not enough hemoglobin in the red blood cells to carry oxygen to cells and tissues. Individuals over age 50 are at increased risk, due to greater use of gastric acid-blocking medications (which interfere with B12 absorption) and the increased likelihood of atrophic gastritis, an increase in the growth of intestinal bacteria.
How can a Vitamin B12 deficiency be prevented?
A healthy diet is the best way to prevent Vitamin B12 deficiency. While food labels do not normally show the levels of B12 in the product, only a small amount is needed daily for maintaining good health. For those needing Vitamin B12 supplementation, pills, liquids and injections are available.