Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread in India. 47% of the Indian population has Vitamin B12 deficiency. Non-vegetarian food is a rich source of it and most of the Indian population is following a vegetarian diet.
Vitamin B12 is the most important nutrient. It helps to create DNA and red blood cells. Also, keeps your blood and nerves healthy.
What is a daily requirement of B12 in the body?
It varies as per age.
Infants 0-6 months – 0.4 mcg
Babies 7-12 months – 0.5 mcg
Children 1-3 years – 0.9 mcg
4-8 years – 1.2 mcg
9-13 years – 1.8 mcg
Teens 14-18 – 2.4 mcg
Adults – 2.4 mcg
Pregnant women – 2.6 mcg
Breastfeeding women – 2.8 mcg
Atrophic gastritis – If you have atrophic gastritis you are at risk of getting vitamin B12 deficiency.
In this disease, the lining of the abdomen gets thinned.
Pernicious anemia – In this condition, your body finds difficulty in absorbing vitamin B12.
Intestine disorder – If you have small intestine disorders like Crohn’s disease, the celiac disease you are at risk of getting deficiency.
Alcohol – Heavy drinking of alcohol creates difficulty in absorbing nutrients and causes deficiency.
Immune system disorders – Like Grave’s disease or Lupus can cause deficiency of vitamin B12.
Medicine – Some medicine like proton pump inhibitors (esomeprazole, lansoprazole, omeprazole, pantoprazole, and rabeprazole), H2 Blockers (cimetidine, and famotidine), and certain diabetes medicines such as metformin can cause vitamin B12 deficiency.
Sources of Vitamin B12
It is naturally found in animal food. that is, eggs, meat, fish, and dairy products.
Following are the Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Fatigue – Fatigue, and weakness is a most common symptom of B12 deficiency.
Red blood cells carry oxygen all over the body. But there is less production of red blood cells due to deficiency of vitamin B12.
Due to the low oxygen levels in the body, you can experience fatigue.
- Pale skin – Due to deficiency of B12, your skin looks pale, as there is a low red blood count.
B12 plays an important role in forming DNA by the division of red blood cells. But due to deficiency cells become undivided and these large cells are unable to pass through bone marrow, as well as to all over the body. As a result, you look pale.
When your bone marrow produces large and fragile blood cells, this condition is known as Megaloblastic anemia.
- Paresthesia – Deficiency of B12 can cause nerve damage and give severe side effects of paresthesia or pricking sensation or numbness in your body.
Myelin surrounds your nerves and gives protection to them. Myelin is produced by a metabolic pathway. Vitamin B12 is a major contributor to the creation of this pathway.
- Breathlessness – Due to deficiency of B12 you became anemic. Also due to less red blood counts your body gets less oxygen which leads to shortness of breath. This symptom aggravates after exertion.
- Mouth ulcers – B12 deficiency can cause ulcers in the mouth, pricking sensation of the tongue, burning sensation in the mouth, or sometimes inflammation to the tongue which is also known as Glossitis.
If you have glossitis, your tongue becomes red, swollen, and painful.
- Mood changes – Low level of B12 can cause mood swings, and in severe cases, it can lead to depression and dementia.
- Blurred vision – Deficiency of B12 can damage nerves. When it damages the optic nerve it affects signals traveling from the brain to the eye and impaired vision.
- Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin.
- mostly found in animal products.
- if you experience any of the above symptoms consult your physician and get yourself examined. As some of the symptoms can relate to other diseases too.
- If you are vegetarian and find a deficiency of B12, take supplements of it after consulting with your physician.