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Posts Tagged ‘vitamin B12 deficiency and muscle weakness’

Top Ten Signs of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

The symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency are strikingly similar to other illnesses.  For this reason, it is important to become familiar with the signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency in order to treat it properly.  People who are at greatest risk for this are smokers, vegans, anyone over the age of fifty, and children of vegans.  Here is a partial list of symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency:

  1. Fatigue – Suffering from a lack of energy.  Since vitamin B12 is necessary for proper blood cell formation, a lack of vitamin B12 leads to smaller blood cells, and therefore carries less oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body, leading to fatigue.
  2. Memory loss – Forgetfulness of important information.  As mentioned previously, vitamin B12 is necessary for blood cell formation.  Low levels of B12 lead to smaller blood cells, and less nutrients for the body and the brain.  In the case of someone with a severe vitamin B12 deficiency, the memory loss can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease or senile dementia.
  3. Depression – Feelings of sadness and worthlessness are often attributed to an underlying mental illness, and a vitamin B12 deficiency may go unnoticed.
  4. Anemia – A low red cell blood count.  A vitamin B12 deficiency leads to the creation of fewer red blood cells in the body.
  5. Vision loss – Vitamin B12 is necessary for the proper formation of nerve cells in the body.  Specifically, vitamin B12 is needed for the fatty membrane surrounding the nerve cells, known as the myelin sheath.  Without this myelin sheath, the electrical signals being passed by the nerve cells go haywire in the body, with many consequences.   This loss of vision can be reversed with injections of vitamin B12.
  6. Dizziness – Poor coordination and clumsiness may be due to a severe vitamin B12 deficiency.  As mentioned previously, improperly formed nerve cells cause electrical impulses to be lost in transmission.
  7. Muscle weakness –   Muscle weakness can be in the arms or legs, also due to nerve cell issues.
  8. Tingling sensation in either the hands or feet – Low levels of vitamin B12 affects nerve cell development, and loss of muscle control is a symptom of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
  9. Urinary incontinence – Also a loss of muscle control due to low levels of vitamin B12.
  10. Paralysis – A total loss of muscle control sets in when stores of vitamin B12 are depleted from the body.

As you can see, many symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can be easily confused with symptoms of other illnesses.  If you are suffering from any of the above, you should have your blood tested for a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Multiple Sclerosis and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

The symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency often mimic those of multiple sclerosis.  These symptoms include neurological impairments that can strike a person at any age.  Unfortunately, doctors often don’t test for a vitamin B12 deficiency until after a person suffers for years.  Sometimes, the neurological damage sustained due to the vitamin B12 deficiency is irreversible, and a person may become paralyzed.

Here is a partial list of symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency, along with actual examples of victims:

  1. Vision loss:  A 28-year-old woman with vision loss was discovered to have B12 plasma levels that were one-third of normal.  Her vision returned after she received injections of vitamin B12.
  2. Dizziness:  A woman who underwent a gastrectomy suffered from poor coordination, also turned out to have a severe vitamin B12 deficiency.
  3. Muscle weakness:  When one woman reached middle age, there was a sudden onset of a mild tremor and weakness in her arm.  This was reversed with vitamin B12 supplementation.

In the above-mentioned cases, blood tests were able to detect the vitamin B12 deficiency.  However, some people have normal blood levels of B12, but are unable to metabolize the B12.  This is known as cobalamin G, which is hereditary.

A woman with cobalamin G nearly lost her life because of a misdiagnosis.  When she was in her early 20’s, she began to experience tingling in her extremities and started to lose control of her hands and feet.  Her serum B12 levels were normal, so the doctors diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis, a disease which causes paralysis.

Finally, when she was 27-years-old, she became very anemic.  She subsequently underwent a bone marrow test.  The results of this test were indicative of a B12 deficiency, and she was finally given B12 injections, along with medication to regulate her homocysteine levels.  The degree of her weakness in her legs were reduced, but continued to bother her.

Had the doctors diagnosed her properly with cobalamin G at an earlier point in time, her difficulty walking could have been prevented.

Unfortunately, there are doctors who still confuse symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency with multiple sclerosis.  Awareness of this problem can prevent future suffering.

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