Vitamin B12 deficiency is nothing to be taken lightly as it can lead to many brain and neurological disorders.
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in the functioning and development of your brain as well as the nervous system, red blood cell formation, energy, and DNA synthesis.
It is incredibly important for the maintenance of the sheaths that cover and protect the nerves of the central and the peripheral nervous system, ensuring proper and faster nerve-impulse transmission. Untreated chronic vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to many brain and neurological disorders, that’s why it is so important to make sure you are getting enough of this compound.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms can show up in your body as pernicious anemia, weakness, loss of appetite, constipation, numbness or tingling in the arms and legs, difficulty maintaining balance, and shortness of breath. Signs of B12 deficiency can also affect your brain and your mind, manifesting as brain fog, memory loss, depression, anxiety, confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, or even schizophrenia! Clinically, B12 is usually also best-known for its role in red blood cell production.
Deficiency states may result in pernicious anemia, which doesn’t sound very nice either.
Due to the fact that B12 keeps your brain healthy, this powerful vitamin is being studied as a way of combating brain shrinkage in the elderly people. Maintaining proper B12 levels in the body is a way to keep one’s brain healthy, as it may fight off everything from memory problems to depression. According to a small Finnish study published in the journal Neurology, people who consume foods rich in Vitamin B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s in their later years. For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12 (holo-transcobalamin), the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was reduced by 2 percent!
Vitamin B12 consists of a class of chemically related compounds, all of which have vitamin activity. This class also contains cobalt, a biologically rare element. This supplement is actually produced by bacteria, although the conversion between the various forms of Vitamin B12 can be accomplished by the human body.
Making sure that your diet includes plenty of fine meats, poultry, eggs, dairy products and wild-caught fish is a great way to fight off Vitamin B12 deficiency. In particular, organ meats such as liver are really high in vitamin B12.
To get your recommended daily value (DV) of Vitamin B12:
- 1 slice of liver, 800% recommended daily value
- 3 ounces of cooked clams, 570% DV
- 3 ounces of sockeye salmon, 80% DV
- 1 cup of yogurt, 23% DV
- 3 ounces of steak, 23% DV
Leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas also provide some B Vitamins. But if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, Vitamin B12 is one of the nutrients your body is most likely deficient in, as it is naturally present in foods that come from animals, including meat, fish, eggs, milk and milk products. Almost half of lacto-ovo vegetarians and over 90% of vegans are B12 deficient. Therefore, taking vitamin supplements, including a good wide spectrum B vitamin supplement, is a great alternative.
At the same time, it may be difficult to get all the B12 that you need even if you are not a vegan or a vegetarian. Due to the fact that the actual problem may be the Vitamin B12 absorption. Some prescription medications used to treat heartburn, stomach ulcers and type 2 diabetes can limit the absorption of B12 as they may cause the thinning of the stomach lining, which also often happens with age.
Blood tests and examination of blood cells under the microscope assess hemoglobin levels, the size of red blood cells and the level of vitamin B12 in the blood. Once diagnosed, vitamin B12 deficiency can usually be treated successfully with B12 injections and sometimes with B12 tablets.
When treating B12 deficiency, while the underlying cause is still being investigated. The use of an activated form of the vitamin is recommended, and preferentially effective at improving levels.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue
- Lack of energy or lethargy
- Being out of breath
- Feeling faint
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Lack of appetite
- Yellowing of the skin
- Sore, red tongue
- Mouth ulcers
- Changes or loss of some sense of touch
- Feeling less pain
- Mobility problems
- Vision problems
- Mood changes, irritability, depression or psychosis
- Symptoms of dementia
If you think you may have Vitamin B12 deficiency, it is extremely important to consult your doctor and address the issue.
Let’s keep our brains healthy and clever!
By Anastasia T.