Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an important water-soluble vitamin that plays an essential role in the production of red blood cells and the proper functioning of the nervous system. It is found naturally in foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy and products fortified with B12, such as some varieties of bread, and milk of vegetable origin.
Unfortunately, vitamin B12 deficiency is common and you are at risk of deficiency when not acquiring it sufficiently through the diet. The people with greater risk of suffering it are the following:
- People who take metformin for diabetes
- People who follow a strict vegan diet.
- Those who take long-term antacids for heartburn.
The symptoms of B12 deficiency can take years to manifest and diagnosing it can be complex. Find out what they are in order to take better care of your health.
6 signs of vitamin B12 deficiency
1.Pale or yellowish skin
People with B12 deficiency often look pale or have a slight yellowing of the skin and eyes , a condition known as jaundice. This happens when the lack of B12 causes problems with the production of red blood cells in the body.
On the other hand, vitamin B12 plays an essential role in the production of DNA necessary to produce red blood cells, so a lack of this vitamin can be the cause of an anemia known as megaloblastic , in which the blood cells produced in the bone marrow They are fragile and big.
These blood cells can not pass from the bone marrow into circulation. Therefore, there will not be enough red blood cells circulating around the body and the skin will take on a pale color.
The fragility of these cells also means that they break down, causing an excess of bilirubin, a slightly red or brown substance, which is produced by the liver when it breaks down old blood cells.
2.Weakness and fatigue
Weakness and fatigue are common symptoms due to vitamin B12 deficiency. They occur because the body does not have enough vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. As a result, the body cannot transport oxygen efficiently to the cells of the body, making it feel tired and weak.
In the elderly, this type of anemia is often caused by an autoimmune condition known as pernicious anemia. People with this condition do not produce enough intrinsic factor protein, a protein needed to help the intestines absorb vitamin B12.
3.Changes in mobility
Failure to address vitamin B12 deficiency can bring long-term changes in movement and in the way you walk. It can even affect balance and coordination, increasing the chances of falls.
This signal is often seen by a lack of B12 undiagnosed in the elderly. However, preventing or treating deficiencies in this group of people can improve mobility. This symptom may also be present in young people who have a severe untreated deficiency.
Another sign of a lack of vitamin B12 is shortness of breath and dizziness, especially when making efforts. This is because the body lacks the red blood cells needed to get enough oxygen for the cells. However, this symptom may have other causes.
It is advisable to go to the doctor when you notice an unusual inhalation in order to investigate the cause.
Is it possible to detect the lack of vitamin B12?
A sign that there is vitamin B12 deficiency is blurred or disturbed vision. This can occur when a B12 deficiency is not addressed, resulting in damage to the optic nerve of the eyes.
The affectation can interrupt the nervous signal that travels from the eye to the brain, harming the vision. This condition is known as optic neuropathy.
Although it may seem alarming, it is often reversible when people are supplemented with B12.
People with little vitamin B12 often experience changes in mood. In fact, low levels of B12 have been linked to mood and brain disorders, such as depression and dementia.
The homocysteine hypothesis of depression has been suggested as a possible explanation. This theory points out that high levels of homocysteine (an amino acid vital to cellular metabolism) caused by a low level of vitamin B12 could damage brain tissue and interfere with signals to and from the brain, which would cause changes in the state of cheer up. In this sense, some studies indicate that certain people with little B12, can reverse the symptoms when supplemented with this vitamin.
It is important to keep in mind that changes in mood and conditions such as dementia and depression can have a variety of causes. Therefore, the effects of supplementation for these conditions remain unclear.
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