Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Its Risks

By: Olivia Cristina

Discover the risks that a lack of vitamin B12 can cause in your body!

Vitamin B12 deficiency, also known as hypovitaminosis B12, is a medical condition that occurs when the body doesn't have enough of it to function properly. Vit-B12 plays a crucial role in the human body, as it is involved in several vital functions, including the formation of red blood cells, the maintenance of the nervous system and cell metabolism.

Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The main cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is a lack of adequate intake in the diet. Vit-B12 is found mainly in foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish, dairy products and eggs. Therefore, people who follow vegetarian or vegan diets have a higher risk of developing this deficiency, unless they take vit-B12 supplements or consume fortified foods.

Low consumption: a diet low in b12 can lead to b12 deficiency.

Bariatric: some types of bariatric surgery can reduce significant parts of the intestine, leading to low concentrations in the body.

Medicines: some classes of medication (proton inhibitors, cholestyramine, H2 antihistamines, metformin, antibiotics, omeprazole, esomeprazole and pantoprazole) can cause problems with vitamin absorption.

Digestive problems: people with Crohn's disease or celiac disease do not absorb vitamin B12 properly and may be deficient.

Excessive alcohol consumption

Symptoms Caused by B12 Deficiency

The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can range from fatigue and weakness to serious neurological problems such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. If left untreated, B12 deficiency can lead to serious complications such as megaloblastic anemia and permanent damage to the nervous system.

Tiredness, shortness of breath, tingling and paleness (especially of the hands and feet) are the main symptoms. In addition, in developing children, hypovitaminosis of B12 can lead to delays in development and growth.

Vitamin B12 contains cobalamin, which is very important for the maintenance and development of the central nervous system. It also helps maintain heart health and blood formation in the bone marrow.

Other common symptoms are loss of sensation in the lower limbs, eye twitching, tremors and palpitations, sores in the oral region, memory loss and loss of appetite

Treatment of B12 hypovitaminosis

It is important to diagnose and treat vitamin B12 deficiency early to avoid long-term complications. Treatment usually involves administering vit-B12 supplements orally or by injection, depending on the severity of the deficiency.

Therefore, in cases of suspicion due to the symptom, it is recommended to go to a specialist doctor to check your state of health. In addition, in the case of children, the doctor should be consulted as soon as possible, as low levels of vitamin B12 can cause irreversible damage.

The main treatments involve intramuscular injections of vit-B12 (concentration of 100 mcg) in the form of hydroxocobalamin (mainly in cases of pernicious anemia); supplements and multivitamins; dietary re-education with foods rich in vit-B12 such as milk, beef liver, eggs, cheese, crustaceans, yogurt, chicken, fish and yeast.

How to find out if your Vitamin B12 is low?

As well as checking your state of health with a doctor, he or she will order some tests to reach a diagnosis. In this sense, you can take the tests and see if you are deficient in B12.

The tests indicated to check for vitamin deficiency are a complete blood count (CBC), which analyzes the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin, as well as their shape, size and color. In addition, it is a good idea to analyze the levels of folate and vitamin B12 (also known as cyanocobalamin) through biochemical tests.

Normal levels for vitamin B12 are between 200 and 800 pg/ml.

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