Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an important water-soluble vitamin It plays an essential role in the production of your red blood cells and DNA, as well as the proper functioning of your nervous system.
Vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) is a water-soluble vitamin that plays essential roles in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function and the production of DNA. Food sources of vitamin B-12 include poultry, meat, fish and dairy products. Vitamin B-12 is also added to some foods and is available as an oral supplement. Vitamin B-12 injections or nasal spray might be prescribed to treat vitamin B-12 deficiency.
People at risk of a B12 deficiency include:
- The elderly
- Those who’ve had surgery that removes the part of the bowel that absorbs B12
- People on the drug metformin for diabetes
- People following a strict vegan diet
- Those taking long-term antacid drugs for heartburn
Unfortunately, symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to show up, and diagnosing it can be complex. A B12 deficiency can sometimes be mistaken for a folate deficiency.
Low levels of B12 cause your folate levels to drop. However, if you have a B12 deficiency, correcting low folate levels may simply mask the deficiency and fail to fix the underlying problem .
Here are 9 signs and symptoms of a true vitamin B12 deficiency.
Inadequate dietary intake of animal products such as eggs, meat, milk, fish, fowl (and some type of edible algae) can result in a deficiency state. Vegans, and to a lesser degree vegetarians, are at risk for B12 deficiency if they do not consume either a dietary supplement or vitamin-fortified foods. Children are at a higher risk for B12 deficiency due to inadequate dietary intake, as they have fewer vitamin stores and a relatively larger vitamin need per calorie of food intake
How to Identify?
Research on the use of vitamin B-12 for specific activities and conditions shows:
- Heart and blood vessel disease. Vitamin B-12, in combination with vitamin B-6 and folate (vitamin B-9), has been shown to control high levels of homocysteine in the blood. Elevated homocysteine might increase your risk of diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease). Despite this benefit, there’s no evidence to show that vitamin B-12 supplements prevent heart disease.
- Dementia. Vitamin B-12 deficiency is associated with dementia and low cognitive function, but it’s not clear whether vitamin B-12 supplements might help prevent or treat dementia.
· Athletic performance. Unless you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency, there’s no evidence that vitamin B-12 supplements will boost your energy or make you a better athlete.
If you have vitamin B12 deficiency, you could become anemic. 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
What to Do?
- Aminosalicylic acid. Taking this drug used to treat digestive problems might reduce your body’s absorption of vitamin B-12.
- Colchicine (Colcrys, Mitigare). Taking this anti-inflammatory drug used to prevent and treat gout attacks might decrease your absorption of vitamin B-12.
- Metformin (Glumetza, Glucophage, Fortamet). Taking this diabetes drug might reduce your absorption of vitamin B-12.
- Proton pump inhibitors. Taking omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or other stomach acid-reducing drugs might decrease your absorption of vitamin B-12.
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) supplements. Taking vitamin B-12 with vitamin C might reduce the available amount of vitamin B-12 in your body. To avoid this interaction, take vitamin C two or more hours after taking a vitamin B-12 supplement.
Your doctor might recommend changing drugs or timing doses to offset