Yes, not having enough of a vitamin can really harm your body. Our body’s ability to absorb vitamin 12 slows down as we age and studies show that 4 out of every 100 women of ages 40 to 59 have vitamin B12 deficiency.
However, aging isn’t the only cause. Since meat is one of the greatest sources of vitamin B12, being vegan can make you susceptible too. Additionally, taking certain drugs, such as Metformin, which is typically prescribed to people with PCOS or type-2 diabetes, as well as heartburn medications, can increase your risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Some common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include intense fatigue and unsteady vision. Be sure to request for a blood test to check your vitamin B12 levels if you ever suspect you are deficient.
But why do we need vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 has a vast number of functions in the body. Vitamin B12 plays a major role in producing red blood cells, DNA and nerves cells. It also helps boost your energy levels, increase your concentration and improve your memory. It protects you from aging and keeps your immunity in great shape. Moreover, vitamin B12 is a superstar in treating health concerns like anemia, heart disease, AIDS, diabetes, bowl disease, depression and swollen tendons.
An average adult should obtain 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 from their diet. Like in the case of many other vitamins, our bodies cannot produce vitamin B12 and therefore, can only be supplied with this nutrient through food and supplements.
Unfortunately, most people do not consume enough vitamin B12-rich foods to meet their daily needs and others just cannot absorb enough of it, regardless of how much of it they consume. This makes vitamin B12 deficiency quite common.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 3.2% of adults who are over 50 have severely low vitamin B12 levels and 20% may have borderline B12 deficiency.
How to detect vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency often takes some time to develop, thereby, causing symptoms to gradually kick in and worsen with time. However, symptoms can appear faster as well.
Since there is a wide range of symptoms associated with vitamin B12 deficiency, the condition can be confused with another health concern. The following are some common symptoms that can take place with vitamin B12 deficiency:
• Numbness, tingling or any other strange sensations in the hands, feet or legs
• Swollen or inflamed tongue
• Difficulty walking or lack of balance
• Memory problems
• Difficulty thinking or concentrating
• Hallucinations or paranoia
Discovering the condition early is beneficial. If left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can worsen overtime and cause severe blood diseases and neurological conditions.
Vitamin B12 and weight gain?
Contrary to popular belief, vitamin B12 deficiency does not lead to weight gain. Most experts explain that one of the most common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency is weight loss. Vitamin B12 generally harms the digestive system in the beginning, causing nausea, indigestion, poor appetite, vomiting and ultimately weight loss.
If you are experiencing any of these problems, speak to your doctor immediately. Most doctors can detect vitamin B12 deficiency by looking at your medical history and conducting physical examination, however, a blood test can confirm it.
How to get more Vitamin B12?
Foods rich in vitamin B12 include meat, fish, eggs and dairy. If you are vegan, try popping a vitamin B12 capsule every day to ensure your B12 levels are in check. Since vitamin B12 plays a huge role in protecting your immunity, it is essential that you consume enough of it to prevent you from getting sick.
Are you getting enough of vitamin B12 in your diet? If not, shoot us an email letting us know why. At Chiang Mai Thailand, we care about your health and fitness. Therefore, this is a great place to start your New Year with plenty of great health routines and effective workouts.
1. Vitamin B12 in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2010 Mar; 2(3): 299–316.