How to Treat Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency is a type of anemia that can interfere with life, making you feel tired, slow, and sluggish all day, for no apparent reason. If you’ve had your adrenal glands tested and passed with flying colors, then it may be time to get your vitamin B12 blood levels checked for symptoms of constant fatigue and brain fog.
1) Know the Symptoms
Vitamin B12 deficiency is sometimes misdiagnosed as depression, anxiety, or chronic fatigue. That’s because oxygen depletion caused by severely low levels of vitamin B12 lead to a wide array of ailments. Unchecked, vitamin B12 deficiency can evolve into pernicious anemia, an illness which can harm the nervous system and sometimes result in death.
- Crushing fatigue
- Memory loss
- Brain fog
- Painful numbness (“pins and needles”) in the extremities
- Muscle twitches
- Loss of balance
2) Get Tested
To confirm that your vitamin B12 serum levels are low, ask for a blood screening for vitamin B12 deficiency and, if possible, an antibody test for intrinsic factor autoimmune disorder- a common cause of pernicious anemia.
But don’t rely on the blood tests alone; standard tests for vitamin B12 deficiency are not always reliable, as they don’t distinguish between active vitamin B12 and resting vitamin B12 being stored in your liver. Also, many patients experience the effects of vitamin B12 deficiency without testing positive for low vitamin B12 serum levels.
3) Find the Cause
If you’re diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, then it’s important to try to find out the cause. There are many risk factors attributed to the initial stages of vitamin B12 deficiency, as well as long-term pernicious anemia.
- Vegan dieting- vitamin B12 is absent in all natural vegetarian sources. It can only be found to occur naturally in meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products.
- Family history for pernicious anemia. If a family member was diagnosed with pernicious anemia, then you’re also at risk for developing it.
- Autoimmune disorders. Sometimes, pernicious anemia occurs because of an autoimmune reaction to intrinsic factor, an essential digestive enzyme needed in order to absorb vitamin B12 from the foods you eat.
- Stomach damage. If you suffer from any condition which causes damage in the gastrointestinal system, then your risk for vitamin B12 deficiency is very high. These include Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, fibromyalgia, lupus, migraine, and irritable bowel syndromes.
- Gastrointestinal surgery. If you have had bariatric surgery such as gastric bypass, or any other surgery which alters the digestive system, then you must supplement with vitamin B12 for life.
- Medications that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, including metformin, protein pump inhibitors, and antidepressants.
- Old age. As you age, you lose the ability to properly digest vitamin B12. To prevent symptoms of fatigue and memory problems often confused with Alzheimer’s disease, the elderly must supplement with vitamin B12 regularly, and get their vitamin B12 levels checked often.
4) Get the Right B12
Depending on the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency, you may need to take vitamin B12 shots or other supplements that deposit vitamin B12 directly into the blood stream. This is the case for almost all people diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency.
If you find that you need more vitamin B12 than your health insurance is willing to provide, then it can help to supplement with extra vitamin B12 from online retailers.
Please tell us
Have you been told to get tested for thyroid dysfunction or depression, but it turned out to be vitamin B12 deficiency?
Image courtesy of Piyachok Thawornmat