Even though vitamin B12 deficiency is rare in most people, some people are susceptible and may experience vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms. According to the MayoClinic in the article “Vitamin B12,” the elderly can be at risk. The MayoClinic goes on to state that vitamin B12 deficiency can also occur from the body being unable to absorb vitamin B12 from the intestinal track. One disease that prevents vitamin B12 from being absorbed is pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is a rare blood disorder that limits the body’s ability to absorb B12. In addition, strict vegans or vegetarians are also prone to symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Most people’s bodies store enough vitamin B12. According to WebMD in “Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia,” most people get enough B12 from eating foods such as meat, eggs, milk and cheese. However, people who have had part of their stomach or intestine removed, as with weight loss surgery, and people who have celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or a parasite can also suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency.
As people age, they are more likely to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. According to Bina Singh in the article “Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B12” in the January 2010 edition of LifeExtension, researchers estimate that “more than 20% of people over 65 suffer from severe B12 deficiency.” Singh goes on to state that symptoms of low B12 are subtle and often go undetected. People should also be aware that common medications used to reduce stomach acid can increase the risk of B12 deficiency.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Sometimes B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms are mild. According to WebMD, people may not notice any signs or they may believe that aging is affecting their bodies. The following are symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency:
-feeling weak, tired and lightheaded
-having diarrhea or constipation
-having a sore, red tongue
-having bleeding gums
-feeling sick to the stomach and losing weight
-having pale skin
People who suffer from B12 deficiency over a prolonged period of time could develop nerve injury. Symptoms of nerve damage according to WebMD include numbness or tingling in fingers and toes, poor balance, depression and dementia. Some people who suffer from B12 deficiency symptoms may also have low levels of folic acid, which could mimic the same symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Treatment and Prevention of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
After being diagnosed by a medical professional with B12 deficiency symptoms, people are usually given regular shots of B12. Shots may be given often for a few weeks or for a month. Then they are typically given once a month. People can also take supplements, which may be just as effective as shots and less costly. Once a person has been diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, he will probably have to take shots or pills for the rest of his life.
Most people can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency and its symptoms by eating foods from animal products high in B12 like meat, milk, cheese and eggs. Vegetarians or vegans should eat foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12 or by taking supplements.
B12 Deficiency Symptoms
While certain health conditions and aging can cause B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms, people should always check with a health care professional to confirm a diagnosis if they suspect they suffer from B12 deficiency.
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