Vitamin B12 is sometimes referred to as cobalamin, and is necessary to assist the brain and nervous system with their normal functions. Vitamin B12 is also vital in the metabolism of the human cells. The inadequate availability of Vitamin B12 in the body is referred to as Vitamin b12 deficiency. This inadequate availability can lead to Vitamin B12 Anemia, more popularly called Pernicious Anemia. Pernicious anemia occurs when the amount of red blood cells in that body has decreased. Sufficient Vitamin B12 is a necessity for red blood cell development. Vitamin B12 enters the body when certain foods are consumed; these include beef, liver, chicken, fish, milk and cheese amongst others. A vegetarian diet may limit the amount of Vitamin B12 that is in the body.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is usually diagnosed by means of routine testing of the blood. The amount of Vitamin B12 in the blood is usually measured. A doctor may need to do other blood tests to discard the possibility of folate (Vitamin B9) deficiency and to determine the cause. If vitamin B12 deficiency is detected in an elder, no further tests will be done.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms usually vary from individual to individual, as it depends on the cause and severity as well as other factors. Some vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms may include paleness on the skin, inability to breathe normally, tiredness, aching of the head, lightheadedness, unusually cold hands and feet, rapid and constant beating of the heart as well as pain in the chest. These Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are as a result of the reduction in the production level of red blood cells. Red blood cells are needed for the transportation of oxygen to cells and tissues of the body. The deficiency may affect the gastrointestinal tract and cause the liver to become swollen, a nauseating feeling which results in vomiting, heart burn, bloating in the abdomen, gas, increased or decreased bowel movements, loss of appetite and uninitiated weight loss. Vitamin B deficiency symptoms may also take place in the nervous system, if these symptoms are ignored, they may cause irreversible damage to the nerve. These symptoms normally include unresponsiveness and an itching sensation in the hands and feet. Other symptoms include shakiness, difficulty walking and loss of memory.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Treatment
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated with the consumption of supplements in adequate doses as well as by an intramuscular or a subcutaneous injection to the body. Injections are usually done monthly throughout a patient’s lifetime. Consumption of supplements is just as effective as an injection.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Prevention
- Vegetarian mothers should give their child/children Vitamin B12 supplements as early as birth.
- Old persons who are not able to consume enough Vitamin B12 should be given Vitamin B12 supplements. Older folks are able to absorb vitamins from supplements easier than from meat.
- Increase the amount of Vitamin B12 consumed, whether by supplement or by food.