Women experiencing menopause need to watch for vitamin B12 deficiency, as risk factors increase during menopause. Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency drastically increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, osteoporosis, and early-onset dementia- all of which are already risk factors for women experiencing menopause.
Vitamin B12 deficiency and menopause
Women in their 40s and 50s are extremely high risk factors for severe vitamin B12 deficiency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 31 Americans over the age of 50 develop vitamin B12 deficiency, the same age most women suffer from menopause.
As you continue to age, your risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency gets higher, as it becomes harder to digest nutrients from the foods you eat, particularly vitamin B12, which requires digestive enzymes that many women experiencing menopause lack.
By the time you reach 60, your chances of suffering signs of chronic illness from depleted vitamin B12 levels are 10%-15%.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
Memory problems, brittle bones from osteoporosis (comorbid with low B12 levels), fatigue, heart palpitations, and mood disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and paranoia are all linked with vitamin B12 deficiency, or pernicious anemia.
All these symptoms are associated with vitamin B12 deficiency, and all are easily misdiagnosed as common symptoms of menopause.
Prevent vitamin B12 deficiency
To test for vitamin B12 deficiency, your doctor will need to take a small blood sample. If lab results confirm low vitamin B12 serum levels, then you will need to take vitamin B12 supplements immediately, and for an extended period as advised by your doctor.
Eating foods containing vitamin B12 may help, but to prevent symptoms and get your vitamin B12 levels back to normal, doctors recommend supplementation, as vitamin B12 malabsorption often prevents people from digesting enough vitamin B12 from chicken, beef, and seafood.
To maintain healthy B12 levels, doctors recommend starting out with 1,000mcg. doses of vitamin B12.
However, since there is no upper level of tolerance for vitamin B12, it is perfectly safe, and even advisable, to take as many doses of vitamin B12 as you need, not only to alleviate symptoms of fatigue, disorientation, and pain, but also to better manage symptoms of menopause.
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