AIDS with B12 Deficiency

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How vitamin B12 can help individuals with HIV AIDS

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the final stage of HIV infection; its symptoms can vary according to the severity and stage of the condition.  The AIDS virus works by slowly multiplying and destroying the immune system, leaving the patient at risk for developing chronic illnesses and infections, including several gastrointestinal diseases which can lead to symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.


What are the symptoms of AIDS?

Some common symptoms of AIDS are swollen lymph glands, diarrhea, rapid weight loss, mouth sores, fever and respiratory illness.  After a few years, AIDS patients are at high risk of developing tuberculosis and many other life-threatening illnesses.

What does vitamin B12 do?

Vitamin B12 is used by the body to produce red blood cells and maintain a healthy nervous system; it is also essential for synthesizing DNA and managing your metabolism. Certain conditions can inhibit the body’s ability to properly digest and utilize vitamin B12 naturally from food sources; these symptoms include chronic diarrhea, excessive vomiting, Crohn’s disease, inflammation of the esophagus and other gastrointestinal diseases. AIDS patients are at high risk for developing any of these conditions, putting them at high risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.

Also read: Getting Enough Vitamin B12? Three Reasons Why You Might Not Be

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

The most common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Depression
  • Altered taste perception
  • Aggression
  • Difficulty maintaining balance while walking
  • Sleep disturbances

Left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to severe neurological damage.

For more information on avoiding B12 deficiency, read Benefits and Sources of Vitamin B12, and How to Avoid Deficiency

Why do AIDS patients need vitamin B12 supplements?

Vitamin B12 is necessary for blood cells distribution, neurological functioning, and cognitive health.  AIDS patients are not able to absorb vitamin B12 naturally from food, so they must replenish their supply of  B12 constantly through supplements, since the body is unable to store vitamin B12, a water-soluble vitamin, for very long.

Vitamin B12 supplements are available over the counter or online. Some vitamin B12 deficiency patients are prescribed with rounds of injections which must be inserted in the thick, muscular area below the buttocks. Often, sublingual  tablets are prescribed as follow-up treatments, but new studies indicate that vitamin B12 pills are not the most effective source of B12, as the body does not digest them well.

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Source: Livestrong, Mayo Clinic