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Causes, Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

15.07.2019 Posted By : Dr Ashok Rattan Share :
Causes, Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is necessary for the production of red blood cells. It also plays an important role in maintaining the health of nerve cells and in the formation of genetic material. A water-soluble vitamin found in specific foods such as meat, fish, milk products and eggs. Vegetables are an inadequate source of vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a condition that can manifest with psychiatric, haematological, and neurological disorders. Vitamin B12 deficiency usually occurs with inadequate absorption or lack of dietary intake. While severe deficiency can cause permanent neurological damage, but earlier manifestations are generally subtle or asymptomatic.

What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

There can be several reasons why Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs. But, vegetarians or vegans who do not intake supplements may develop a B12 deficiency due to the inadequate nutritional intake of vitamins. It may take a number of years for the deficiency to become visible due to the stores we have in our body. Usually, once these stores begin to deplete, the symptoms of B12 deficiency become noticeable.

Pernicious Anaemia

One reason for Vitamin B12 deficiency is pernicious anaemia. The condition can cause malabsorption of B12 from both dietary sources and recycled biliary B12.

Pernicious anaemia is an outcome of autoimmune gastritis, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the fundus and body of the stomach. In other words, the immune system attacks the cells in the stomach, preventing the absorption of Vitamin B12.

Lack of Dietary Intake

A lack of intake of Vitamin B12 in the diet is also another cause for deficiency. As most of the dietary B12 comes from animal sources, those who are strict vegans and few vegetarians are at risk of developing Vitamin B12 deficiency. Other subgroups such as senior citizens and those following the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets are even at risk.

Drugs/Medication

There are several medications which can affect the amount of B12 the body absorbs. A few examples can include:

  • Alcohol
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Metformin
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • H2 receptor agonists

Signs & Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

There are a number of effects of vitamin B12 deficiency, and the symptoms may vary. Usually, the symptoms gradually develop over the course of weeks or months and they do not usually improve without treatment.

If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, you have chances to become anaemic. A minor deficiency may cause no symptoms. But if untreated, it may lead to symptoms such as:

  • Frequent weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath while breathing
  • Constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or gas
  • Pale skin
  • Vision loss
  • Psychological problems like depression, memory loss, or behavioral changes
  • Muscle weakness, numbness or tingling, and problems while walking

Regular health checkups play an important role in keeping this and several other adverse medical conditions away. So, pick a preventive health check-up today & find a lab in your nearest city. You can also book a blood test offered by PathKind to get accurate test results while saving on money.

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