Vitamin B12, also called as Cobalamin, is commonly known as the “Powerhouse Vitamin”. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is supplied as a dietary supplement and also as a prescription medicine. It helps in the formation of red blood cells and plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy brain. It also performs a key role in promoting a healthy immune system. As reported by the National Institute of Health (NIH), an average adult requires close to 2.4 mcg of Vitamin B12 per day. However, often this required quantity remains unachievable in a certain set of the population. Of this, vegetarians, vegans and the elderly are at a high risk of developing Vitamin B12 deficiency.
What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
– Vegan diet- It majorly comprises of vegetarian food that is devoid of animal and dairy products such as milk, curd, cheese, honey, etc.
– Gastro-intestinal Disorders – The main site of absorption of Vitamin B12 is the intestine, therefore, malabsorption will lead to a deficiency of Vitamin B12 in the body
– Chronic alcoholism
– Pernicious anemia – It is an autoimmune disorder, caused by a deficiency of intrinsic factor, which in turn is important for absorption of Vitamin B12
How Would You Know That Your Body is Deficient of Vitamin B12?
A mild form of the deficiency may not showcase any symptoms. However, upon the progression of the deficiency, it shall show common symptoms such as:
– Shortness of breath
– Constipation, diarrhea or loss of appetite
– A sore mouth or tongue
– Easy bruising
– Nerve problems like Tingling sensation in fingers or toes, muscle problems
If the deficiency is left untreated for long, it can lead to severe anemia and brain damage. Anemia due to deficiency of Vitamin B12 is usually called Megaloblastic Anemia. At times, the deficiency can lead to increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers as well.
How Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of Vitamin B12 deficiency can be performed by a number of blood tests which include:
– Complete blood count (CBC) – Level of Hemoglobin and Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV) decrease in Vitamin B12 deficiency
– Serum Vitamin B12 Levels– Levels of Vitamin B12 decrease in Vitamin B12 deficiency
– Serum MethylmaonylCoa and Homocysteine – Levels of both these metabolites increase in Vitamin B12 deficiency
What Are The Natural Sources of Vitamin B12?
It occurs naturally in animal products like fish, meat, milk, shellfish, eggs etc. Unfortunately, no plant products contain vitamin B12, therefore the deficiency is common in vegetarians. Experts suggest a breakfast that is high on Vitamin B12 that includes milk, milk products, and cereals fortified with Vitamin B12.
What Is The Treatment For Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
– It is best recommended to obtain Vitamin B12 from natural sources some of which have been mentioned above.
– In case your Vitamin B12 levels are very low or you are intolerant to the recommended natural sources, then your doctor will prescribe Vitamin B12 supplements.
– Vitamin B12 supplements are available as a prescription medication in the form of oral tablets and injectables.
– Regular annual blood tests are important to monitor the success of treatment.
Since many of the Indians are vegetarians and are therefore prone to Vitamin B12 deficiency, you can get your levels checked through affordable Vitamin B12 blood profile at 1mg.
Stay Healthy, Stay Happy!