Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin responsible for the production of red blood cells in the body and for maintaining healthy nerves. This is best achieved through a diet of foods rich in B12 that come from animal sources such as meat and cheese. This means that vegans and vegetarians may be at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, unless they contain enriched vitamin B12 in their diet or take supplements. A person may also find it difficult to get enough B12 from their diet as a result of their health, such as pernicious anemia – it affects the absorption of B12 from food.
Regardless of the reason, if someone lacks vitamin B12, the number of red blood cells will be low and the nerves will be affected.
In this case, symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency appear.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to vision problems, loss of memory, loss of physical coordination and heart failure if left untreated, so identifying the symptoms is very important.
Three symptoms of the disease may appear when you go to the toilet and this should not be overlooked.
Gas, constipation and diarrhea may all be indicative of a B12 deficiency, according to the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
These are all symptoms associated with the digestive tract, which may be affected by a deficiency of vitamin B12.
Your digestive health depends on the healthy functioning of the stomach, small and large intestine, large intestine and rectum, and these tissues depend on the B vitamins.
Low intake of vitamin B12 affects the digestive tract, and a serious deficiency paralyzes the muscle tissue lining of the digestive tract, hindering the work of the intestines.
Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
Bupa lists six symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. They include:
- I feel very tired
- Apnea even after a small effort
- Heart palpitations
- Reduced appetite
- Painful lips and tongue
The health organization adds: "If you have anemia with vitamin B12 deficiency, you may also look pale or jaundiced (have a yellow tinge on the skin and whites of the eyes).
"In addition to the symptoms of anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause symptoms associated with the nerves. This is called the neuropathy of vitamin B12. This can affect movements and sensations, especially in the legs, cause numbness or needles, and reduce sensitivity to touch, vibration or pain. It can also cause confusion, depression, poor concentration and forgetfulness. "
But he also advises: "These symptoms do not always result from anemia with vitamin B12 deficiency, but if you have them with your family doctor."
Some experts say that the spasm of the eye may also develop with a deficiency of vitamin B12.
Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency
If a person who does not receive enough vitamin B12 from their diet, can be told by a general practitioner about the need to eat more foods enriched with B12 or taking regular supplements.
Vitamin B12 injections are also recommended, and for people with pernicious anemia, injections may be required for the rest of their lives.
Experts say that adults between 19 and 64 years need about 1.5 micrograms (mg) of vitamin B12 per day, and if you do not have pernicious anemia, you should be able to achieve it through your diet.
If a B12 deficiency is caused by an insufficient amount of B12 in the diet, Harvard Health Publishing, part of the Harvard Medical School, offers the "B12 food list" on its website.