The typical symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency often only appear after years of insufficient supply. However, it is important to recognize these symptoms early in order to prevent more serious health consequences and sometimes irreversible damage.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) cannot be produced by the human body. Therefore, it must be obtained in sufficient quantities through the diet. Therefore, foods that contain vitamin B 12 should be on the menu as regularly as possible.
Why does vitamin B-12 deficiency occur?
If the vitamin is not consumed in sufficient quantities through the diet, this can eventually trigger a vitamin B12 deficiency, which can have serious effects on health.
In addition, the deficiency can also occur due to poor bioavailability or malabsorption, explains an international research team in a review paper on vitamin B12 deficiency. The deficiency could also be caused by a disruption in B12 transport in the blood.
Impairment of cellular absorption and impairment of metabolism are also possible triggers. This makes it clear that such a deficiency cannot only occur if the diet contains too little of the important vitamin.
Other factors that can influence the absorption of vitamin B12 include older age, intestinal colonization, fish tapeworms and Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome. In addition, the need for vitamin B12 is significantly increased during pregnancy.
A study this year also reported that people with type 2 diabetes who take metformin have a higher risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency.
How do you recognize vitamin B-12 deficiency?
As already mentioned above, it should be noted that vitamin B-12 deficiency only occurs after years of undersupply because vitamin B12 and folic acid work closely together in the body and the liver stores folic acid for up to three years.
In order to identify a possible vitamin B12 deficiency, it is first important to recognize the typical symptoms. These include, for example, tiredness, exhaustion and paleness. However, it is also possible that the deficiency manifests itself in abnormal sensations in the hands and feet or even causes paralysis.
In addition, the lack of vitamin B12 can contribute to a reduction in white blood cells, which results in a weakened immune system. A tendency to bleeding, lack of appetite and weight loss can also indicate vitamin B-12 deficiency. Other symptoms manifest themselves in the mouth, for example as injuries to the oral mucosa or burning on the tongue.
It is also possible that vitamin B-12 deficiency causes unsteady gait and psychological confusion as well as cognitive decline. Vitamin B12 deficiency even appears to increase the risk of depression, reports the Mayo Clinic (USA).
- Nutrition: Health Benefits of Vitamin B12 and Best Sources
- Vitamin B12 deficiency: who is at risk and what should be taken into account?
- Nutrition: Why the body needs vitamin B12
Make sure you get enough vitamin B-12
It must be clearly stated again that a vitamin B-12 deficiency should by no means be taken lightly. This is also made clear by the results of a study in which such a deficiency was associated with irreversible neurological damage.
Therefore, care should be taken to ensure that the diet contains sufficient foods containing vitamin B12, and if there is evidence of a vitamin B12 deficiency, urgent medical evaluation is required in order to avoid serious consequences for health. (as)