Common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency

Why is vitamin B12 so important?

Vitamin B12 comes from the B group of vitamins. Unlike most other vitamins, however, it can neither be produced in, or stored by your body, and therefore can only be absorbed through certain foods, or health supplements. Vitamin B12 is an important nutritional requirement for the body as it aids in the production of red blood cells, protects the nerves from damage and ensures structural stability of certain chromosome regions, apart from being able to also carry out other bodily functions. The human body is capable of producing millions of red blood cells every minute. However, this process can only be made possible if there is an adequate supply of vitamin B12 to carry oxygen throughout the body. Contrastingly, a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to physical and psychological problems in the body. The symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include impaired vision, mouth ulcers, irritability and depression.

Important facts to know about Vitamin B12

A Vitamin B12 deficiency typically affects anywhere between 1.5 and 15 percent of people. Given the fact that vitamin B12 cannot be stored by your body, it therefore needs to be provided on a daily basis through certain foods, or a health supplement. For example, adults between the age of 19 – 64 need approximately 1.5 microgram (mcg) of vitamin B12 per day. Foods that double up as natural sources of vitamin B12 include fish, meat, eggs and dairy products.

* Vitamin B12 is water-soluble and can travel through the bloodstream.

Foods that are great sources of vitamin B12 include:

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Red meat: beef, pork, lamb

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Fish: mackerel, salmon, tuna

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Dairy: milk, cheese, yogurt

Frequent consumption of these foods can ensure that your body absorbs an adequate amount of vitamin B12 for your everyday needs. This, however, can be a problem for both vegetarians and vegans alike, as their consumption of plant-based foods prevent them from supplementing their bodies with vitamin B12 (which is primarily available through animal-based foods). Fortunately, a number of refined vegetarian and vegan foods which contain vitamin B12 are also available. These include fortified cereals, plant milks, bread and nutritional yeast. As an alternative, you can also choose to supplement your body with a daily dose of Berocca, as it too, contains vitamin B12, as well as other essential nutrients required for healthy body function.

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Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

 

A vitamin B12 deficiency in the body is fairly common, but its symptoms may only show after a prolonged period of time. In fact, some symptoms can take years to show, and may also be initially difficult to diagnose. This is because a vitamin B12 deficiency shares similar symptoms as other health conditions or nutritional deficiencies. These symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency may include:

1. Fatigue

Without enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, a person can suffer from chronic bouts of exhaustion on a regular basis.

2. Increased heart rate

When there is an insufficient amount of red blood cells to carry oxygen to all parts of the body, the heart will naturally beat faster to overcome this problem, thus resulting in an increased heart rate.

Quote – Vitamin B12 deficiency can affect between 1.5 and 15 percent of people

3. Breathlessness and dizziness

A vitamin B12 deficiency in the body can also cause people to experience symptoms such as a shortness of breath or spells of dizziness, especially after they have put their bodies through an intense physical effort. These symptoms are also associated with a shortage of red blood cells in the body, and can be accompanied by increased heart rate as well. If your workout routine is thoroughly enjoyable but leaves you in a state of breathlessness often, it would be advisable for you to seek consultation with a doctor, who will be able to determine if your body is receiving the required minimum intake of vitamin B12 daily.

4. Problems with thinking and reasoning
These changes in how you feel, and in your behavior, are a result of not having enough oxygen supply reaching the brain.

5. A decrease in appetite and weight loss
These symptoms are linked to other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, which are all byproducts of digestive problems.

6. Mouth ulcers and pain
As with other common symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency, an insufficiency of red blood cells in the body will prevent the carrying of oxygen to all parts of the body, which in turn may cause mouth ulcers or a painful sensation that is experienced in different areas of your mouth.

7. Pale or yellow skin (jaundice)
Pale skin, too, is a symptom that is associated with your body being unable to produce red blood cells due to a vitamin B12 deficiency. If you’ve looked at yourself in the mirror, and noticed that your skin looks somewhat paler than usual, it would be advisable for you to relook your food intake to ensure that you're consuming an adequate amount of vitamin B12-rich food products.

8. Pins and needles
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the health of your nervous system. A deficiency of vitamin B12 in the body can result in nerve damage, which in turn causes a tingling sensation that is typically experienced in your hands and feet.

Most people are able to supplement their bodies with an adequate amount of vitamin B12 through a healthy and balanced diet. However, for people who have problems with absorbing vitamin B12 effectively, supplements in the form of tablets or injections are recommended. Berocca supplements contains a rich formula of B group vitamins (10µg of Vitamin B12) that can effectively supply your body with whichever B vitamin that it is currently lacking.

*Data from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b
 

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