Are you at risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency, one of the fastest growing forms of malnourishment today? Most people with B12 deficiency don’t even know they have it. Find out why vitamin B12 is important for healthy living. Are you are getting enough?
What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
Vitamin B12, an essential nutrient called cobalamin, occurs naturally in meat and other protein foods such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. Vitamin B12 is one of the B-complex vitamins, and plays many important roles in your healthy lifestyle, and unless you get enough vitamin B12 from your diet or from vitamin B12 supplements, then you might experience the following symptoms:
- Constant tiredness, fatigue for no apparent reason
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of concentration
- Short-term memory loss
- Muscular aches
- Tingling, numbness or pain in your hands and feet
- Sore, swollen red tongue
- Altered taste perception
- Difficulty walking smoothly
- Poor hand-eye coordination and motor skills
Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency could lead to neurological damage, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, memory problems, and misdiagnosis of severe mood disorders.
So, who’s at risk for B12 deficiency?
Even if you eat plenty of meat and milk, you may be susceptible for vitamin B12 deficiency, as there are many other risk factors involved…
If you fit into any one of the following categories, then you are highly susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Do you have diabetes? If you are diabetic, and you take metformin, then you are vulnerable to B12 deficiency, since metformin blocks your ability to digest vitamin B12 properly.
- Have you had weight loss surgery? If you have had any bariatric surgery such as gastric bypass, or any other gastrointestinal surgery that involves removing a piece of the small intestine called the ileum, then you need to take vitamin B12 supplements regularly. The ileum is the bottom-most part of the small intestine, and is principally responsible for absorbing vitamin B12.
- Do you suffer from autoimmune disorders? If you suffer from any autoimmune disease that involves damage to the digestive system, then you are at risk for many forms of malnourishment, including vitamin B12 deficiency. Examples of autoimmune disorders that correlate with vitamin B12 deficiency are Crohn’s disease, celiac disorder, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and lupus.
- Are you a senior citizen? The elderly are highly susceptible to B12 deficiency. As you age, your body produces fewer stomach acids that are necessary for digesting vitamin B12 from the foods you eat. Also, older people tend to eat less and have sensitive stomachs, all of which can lead to malnourishment. In order to avoid B12 deficiency, it is crucial to include extra B12 supplements in your daily vitamin regimen.
- Do you take heartburn medication? If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or if just take many antacids, then you might become deficient in vitamin B12, as stomach acids are essential for digesting vitamins such as B12 from your food.
- Are you an alcoholic? Frequent alcohol use inhibits your body’s ability to absorb nutrients like vitamin B12 properly, and causes malnourishment.
- Does vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia run in your family? Some people are unable to produce intrinsic factor, an essential chemical your stomach makes to access and digest vitamin B12 from food sources. If you have this autoimmune disorder, then you must supplement with a form of vitamin B12 that dispenses the vitamin directly into your bloodstream.
How can I find out if I have vitamin B12 deficiency?
The only way to find out if you have vitamin B12 deficiency is to visit your doctor and ask for a vitamin B12 blood test. If you test positive, then he will likely prescribe a regimen of vitamin B12 supplements.
Read more about preventing vitamin B12 deficiency:
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