Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency develops slowly, which leads to the emergence of symptoms gradually, and intensify over time, and it can also appear relatively quickly, and the group of symptoms that can be caused by a deficiency of this vitamin may mix with the symptoms of some other conditions, and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include the following :
Jaundice or pallor of the skin: People with vitamin B12 deficiency often look pale, or have a slight yellow color on the skin and in the whites of the eyes, and this condition is known as jaundice, which occurs as a result of problems in the production of red blood cells in the body. Due to a deficiency of vitamin B12, due to its role in the production of chromosome DNA necessary for the manufacture of red blood cells, and when it is lacking, the foundations for building cells are incomplete, and they become unable to divide. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes a type of anemia known as megaloblastic anemia, in which the red blood cells produced in the bone marrow are large and fragile, making them too large to move from the bone marrow and into the circulatory system. Thus, the number of red blood cells becomes insufficient in the blood circulation, which causes pale skin.
Asthenia and fatigue: Weakness and fatigue are common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, and they occur as a result of the body not containing enough vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body, so the body cannot efficiently transfer oxygen to its cells, which leads to It causes feeling these symptoms, and the elderly develop one of the types of anemia, which is known as pernicious anemia, which often occurs due to autoimmune diseases, and people with pernicious anemia are unable to produce enough protein Which is known as intrinsic factor, which is necessary to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency, as it binds to this vitamin in the intestines so that the body can absorb it.
Movement changes: Vitamin B12 deficiency if not treated causes damage to the nervous system, which can cause changes in the way you walk or move, and these changes may affect balance and coordination, which increases the risk of falling, and these symptoms often appear in Elderly people with undiagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency, as they are more susceptible to this vitamin deficiency, and therefore reducing the occurrence of this deficiency, or treating it may improve their mobility, and in addition, these symptoms may occur in young people who suffer from Severe, untreated deficiency.
Shortness of breath and dizziness: People with anemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency may feel shortness of breath and dizziness, especially when making an effort, as the body lacks red blood cells needed to get enough oxygen to the cells, but these symptoms may be for several reasons, Therefore, a doctor should be consulted when breathing abnormally.
Vision disorder: Blurred and distorted vision is one of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, which can occur as a result of untreated vitamin B12 deficiency, which leads to damage to the nervous system of the optic nerve of the eyes, and this damage can lead to disruption of the nerve signals that are transmitted from the eyes to the The brain, which impairs vision, this condition is known as optic neuropathy.
Tingling sensation: One of the most serious side effects of long-term vitamin B12 deficiency is nerve damage, and this symptom can occur over time. Vitamin B12 is an important contributor to the metabolic pathway that produces the fatty substance myelin, a substance that surrounds nerves, as a form of protection and insulation.
Glossitis and mouth ulcers: Symptoms of glossitis are a change in the shape and color of the tongue, which leads to swelling, redness, and pain. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2009 showed that the tongue is swollen, or inflamed, and has long straight lesions. It could be an early sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency. This inflammation can affect the way you talk and eat, and in addition, people who are deficient in vitamin B12 can suffer from a number of other symptoms, such as: mouth ulcers, tingling in the tongue, and itching and burning in the mouth.
Mood changes: People with vitamin B12 deficiency often suffer from mood changes, and low levels of this vitamin in the body are associated with mood and brain disorders, such as: depression and dementia, as low levels of vitamin B12 increase the level of homocysteine, which causes Damage to brain tissue, in addition to that it interferes with the signals sent from the brain, causing a change in mood, and it is worth noting that these symptoms can occur for several reasons, so the effect of vitamin B12 supplements to relieve these symptoms is still unclear, and from On the other hand, it was found in a systematic review consisting of a group of studies, and published in the Journal of International Psychogeriatrics in 2015, that the use of vitamin B12 does not reduce the severity of depressive symptoms over a short period of time, but it may be useful in the long term to control these symptoms for some individuals, but more studies are needed to prove this relationship.
Other symptoms: of which we mention the following:
- Diarrhea, or constipation.
- feeling irritable hallucinations;
- Confusion, or change in mental status, such as dementia in severe cases.
- Concentrating problems.
- Psychosis, meaning loss of contact with reality.
Causes of Vitamin B12 deficiency
Not eating enough vitamin B12: Vegetarians are likely to be more susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency, and infants of vegetarian mothers may develop vitamin B12 deficiency by the age of 4 to 6 months, as the stores of vitamin B12 in the liver are limited in most of them. Babies quickly lead to an increased need for nutrients.
Inadequate absorption of vitamin B12: Inadequate absorption of vitamin B12 is one of the most common causes of vitamin B12 deficiency, and decreased secretion of gastric acid leads to a decrease in the ability to absorb vitamin B12 in the elderly, and in such cases it is recommended to take crystallized vitamin B12, as found in Vitamin supplements, which the body of people with this condition can absorb, and vitamin B12 found in food sources is difficult for their body to absorb naturally, and insufficient absorption may occur in people with a condition called blind loop syndrome, with an overgrowth of bacteria, or Infection with tapeworms as a result of eating raw fish, and in these cases bacteria or parasites use digested vitamin B12, which reduces the quantities available for absorption, and the body may not be able to absorb sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 in the event of damage to the absorption sites located in a part of the intestine called An ileum, caused by inflammatory bowel disease, or because it has been surgically removed.
Less common causes of inadequate vitamin B12 absorption include a number of health conditions, such as: chronic pancreatitis, gastric or bariatric surgery, malabsorption syndromes, AIDS, and a genetic disorder that causes malabsorption in the last part of the small intestine, known as Imerslund. -Graesbeck syndrome.
Use of certain medications: Taking certain medications, such as antacids, metformin, and frequent exposure to nitrous oxide may increase the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 deficiency treatment
People who suffer from pernicious anemia, or problems absorbing vitamin B12, may need to take vitamin B12 injections, and must continue to take them, and then take high doses of its nutritional supplements orally, under the supervision of a doctor. As for people who do not take Animal products, they can change their diet to include cereals fortified with vitamin B12, take nutritional supplements, or through injections, and a high dose of this vitamin can be taken orally in cases of deficiency. To take a daily vitamin B12 supplement, or take a multivitamin supplement that contains vitamin B12, which may help solve the problem, but it should be noted that nerve damage caused by a deficiency can be permanent.
An overview of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, or what is known as cobalamin, is one of the water-soluble vitamins, and it is necessary for the formation of red blood cells, cell metabolism, and is involved in nerve function, and the production of DNA, and this vitamin is one of the vitamins that the body can store over several years Cobalamin is a nutrient that the body cannot produce on its own, so it must be obtained from the diet or supplements. Cobalamin is derived exclusively from bacterial sources, and is an essential cofactor for three known enzyme reactions.