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Role Of Vitamin B12

Assists our bodies to convert food (carbohydrates) into glucose, essential for energy production.

  • Assists our bodies to convert food (carbohydrates) into glucose, essential for energy production.
  • They are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver.
  • Plays a vital role in the normal functioning of the brain and the nervous system.
  • It is needed in the metabolism of every cell in the body.

The human body produces millions of red blood cells every minute, but without vitamin B12, cells cannot multiply properly. The production of red blood cells goes down if a person’s vitamin B12 levels are too low. As the red blood cell count drops, anemia results.

How do we know we are deficient?

The symptoms are often not very specific, so vitamin B12 deficiency can go unnoticed for a long period of time. It is also easily mistaken for other conditions, and therefore remains misdiagnosed. That is where the danger lies. By the time the condition gets detected, there might be some irreversible damage done already. A careful interview and a blood test is required. You are considered to be B12 deficient if your concentration of vitamin is less than 150 pmol/L.

Here are some alarming signs for vitamin B-12 deficiency.

1. Dizziness

Frequent bouts of dizziness and vertigo can indicate B12 deficiency. You may experience a feeling of wobbles when you get up too fast from a sitting position. You may also feel dizzy when you walk up or downstairs, it could also be dangerous. Chronic vertigo symptoms should be brought to your doctor’s attention, so you can be given the required treatment for the deficiency.

2. Forgetfulness
Chronic and uncharacteristic forgetfulness may indicate a B12 deficiency. Many patients assume that they are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, especially in their senior years while all they lack is B12. A simple blood test can diagnose B12 deficiency, and a supplemental regimen can help improve your memory.

3. Muscle Weakness
Lack of vitamin B12 and insufficient oxygenation to muscles can result in sluggishness and uncharacteristic muscle weakness. Suddenly an inpidual who carries big loads will not be able to manage a heavy purse or a gym bag.

4. Pale Complexion
Those suffering from B12 deficiency are pale in complexion due to the lack of red blood cells. The body releases excess bilirubin, which zaps those rosy cheeks and leaves behind a pale, yellow visage.

5. Pins and Needles
Experiencing pins and needles throughout your body when you haven’t compressed your body could be signs of B12 deficiency. Numbness or the feeling of electric shock waves could be a result of nerve damage in B12 deficient patients. Nerve issues in the body can be traced back to low oxygen levels, due to poor red blood cell production, which the B12 vitamin largely affects.

6. Unexplained Fatigue
Fatigue felt for days even though you regularly get a good night’s sleep may be the result of a B12 deficiency. This is due to lack of red blood cell production, which is one of B12s responsibilities. Lack of red blood cells means oxygen transport to your organs is lacking, which is what is causing extreme fatigue.

7. Vision Issues
Low B12 stores over the long term can lead to vision changes and damage your vision. Retinal damage can be results of the blood vessels in the eye are blocked. As a result, you may experience light sensitivity, blurred or double vision, tracers or shadows, which all result from damage to the optic nerve. However, supplements can restore full vision.

A mild deficiency may cause no symptoms. But if untreated, it may lead to symptoms such as:

  • Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • A smooth tongue
  • Constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or gas
  • Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking
  • Vision loss
  • Mental problems like depression, memory loss, or behavioral changes
  • B12 affects the production of melatonin which is known as the ‘sleep hormone’.
  • White nails may also be a sign of anemia.

Foods that are good sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Fish, especially haddock, and tuna
  • Milk, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Some nutritional yeast products.
  • Eggs.
  • Tofu
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Soy Milk
  • Breakfast Cereals
  • Traces of B12 in plant based foods
  • Broccoli
  • Moong Sprouts
  • Asparagust
  • Mushrooms

What about vegetarians?

Vegans consume no animal products, but they can definitely take vitamin B12 dietary supplements preferable with water, after eating, to avoid deficiency. This is particularly important for women during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Elderly people may need larger amounts of vitamin B12 than younger people because the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 from the diet declines with age. Milk, yogurt and cheese, along with eggs, are the only vegetarian food items that naturally contain significant levels of vitamin B12.
Plant foods may be fortified with B12. If you are considering taking a B12 supplement, ask your DOCTOR to help you determine the right dose for you

How much to Get?

The answer depends on things including your age, your eating habits and medical conditions, and what medications you take.
The average recommended amounts, measured in micrograms (mcg), vary by age:

  • Infants up to age 6 months: 0.4 mcg
  • Babies age 7-12 months: 0.5 mcg
  • Children age 1-3 years: 0.9 mcg
  • Kids age 4-8 years: 1.2 mcg
  • Children age 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
  • Teens age 14-18: 2.4 mcg
  • Adults: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg per day if breastfeeding)
Curated By Dt. Vidhhi Mehtaa