Vitamin B12 protects the health of blood cells and nerves. It also helps create DNA (genetic material in cells). Vitamin B12 also protects against megaloblastic anemia. This type of anemia makes a person feel weak and tired.
Vitamin B12 is needed
Dr. Mercola says vitamin B12 performs several important functions in the body, consisting of:
- secreting adrenal hormone
- formation of red blood cells
- healthy anxiety system
- iron absorption
- fat and carbohydrate metabolism
- healthy reproductive system in women
First, check the following list of symptoms:
- You can barely stay awake in the afternoon even if you slept 8 hours the night before.
Fatigue is one of the first symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. This is because our body needs vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen in the body. Fatigue can be caused by many factors, not just B12 deficiency, but it is definitely a symptom of this deficiency.
- Your shopping bag seems to weigh a ton. If the body doesn’t get enough oxygen through the red blood cells, the muscles will start to weaken.
You will feel like you don’t even have the strength to carry a simple bag of basic groceries.
- You will experience strange sensations.
Sometimes you may feel as if you have electricity in your body. Or you may feel like you have pins and needles in your body, it will tingle. All these are the result of nerve damage, damage that occurs when there is not enough oxygen in the body.
- You begin to forget the basics. Do you find yourself putting your keys in the fridge? Or that you can’t remember the name of a close family member?
You may start to think it’s the beginnings of dementia, but it’s actually B12 deficiency. Some people get scared into thinking they have Alzheimer’s, but as soon as they have a blood test they realise it’s B12 deficiency.
- Feeling dizzy. Dizzy just by climbing stairs. Suddenly getting up from the floor or any other sudden activity makes you dizzy. Lack of vitamin B12 is the main culprit for these symptoms.
- Your skin is pale. If you go from having pinkish skin to having pale skin, a lack of B12 may be to blame. The red cells become very fragile, break down and release bilirubin which gives the skin its pale appearance.
- The tongue is reddish. More than half of B12-deficient people lose the papillae on their tongue, especially on the tip of the tongue.
Some people also say they have a pain or burning sensation on the back of the tongue. As you lose your taste buds, your food starts to lose its taste and, as a result, many will start to lose weight.
- Cry about everything. Feeling more anxious than ever? B12 deficiency makes you feel depressed and anxious.
Vitamin B12 is involved in the release of very important brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.
- Something’s wrong with your eyes. In extreme cases, B12 deficiency can cause damage to the optic nerve or damage the blood vessels on the retina, and vision becomes blurred, light sensitivity, double vision or even total loss of vision. An early symptom of eye disease can be a shadow in the eye.
If you experience more than one of these symptoms, you may be deficient in vitamin B12.
To absorb vitamin B12 from food, the body needs to perform two steps. First, hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates the vitamin from the proteins found in the food product. Next, the vitamin combines with the intrinsic factor, protein produced by the stomach. Finally, vitamin B12 is absorbed by the body.
People suffering from pernicious anemia cannot produce intrinsic factors, so they cannot absorb vitamin B12.
Many people are deficient in vitamin B12, especially people around the age of 60. However, tests for vitamin B12 have such varying limits that most people consider themselves not to be deficient, even though they are!
Vitamin B12 is found in foods of animal origin. This can also be added to some fortified foods.
Food sources of vitamin B12:
- sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, shrimp, clams
- beef, pork, lamb, chicken, goat, turkey
- cow’s milk, yoghurt, hard and soft cheese, cream cheese
- vegetarian nutritional sources: coconut milk
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin and is found in elements of animal origin.
When to test for B12 deficiency?
- High mean erythrocyte volume anaemia
- Balance problems, numbness, difficulty walking, tingling and other neurological symptoms
- disorientation, confusion and change in mental state
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- schizophrenia, mania and bipolar disorder
- gastrointestinal and similar pancreatic disorders
- gastric bypass patients
- People aged over 60
- People on a restricted diet, such as vegetarians and vegans
- autoimmune disorders
- Children with developmental delay and autism
- Breastfed children with mothers who are vitamin B12 deficient
- Eating disorders
- Family history of anemia
- Use of Metformin and PPI drugs
- Vascular disorders such as blood clots, stroke or heart attack.