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Guide on Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Significance, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Pathkind Team 2969 Views
Updated: 13 Oct 2023
Published: 15 Sep 2022
Guide on Vitamin B12 Deficiency Test

You must be aware of the nutrients required by our bodies to function optimally. Do you know the 13 essential vitamins for the survival of the body? These essential vitamins are A, C, D, E, K, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. If any of the vitamins are not present in the required amount, there will be consequences. In this blog, let us focus on vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms and causes. Also known as cobalamin, deficiency of B12 can cause several problems in the body. Read on to learn more about vitamin B12 deficiency and its treatment.

Understanding the Importance of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a type of nutrient soluble in water. It is also a must-have nutrient in the human body. Not one or two, but vitamin B12 plays many roles in the human body. Vitamin B12 supports the formation of RBCs in the blood and helps develop cellular energy. It also extends support to the adrenal gland in the body. Without vitamin B12, nutrient absorption in the body becomes trickier. From DNA synthesis to maintenance of reproductive health, cobalamin has many uses. It also plays a role in brain regeneration and memory recall.

As one can see, there are multiple functionalities of vitamin B12 in the body. Therefore, vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are not a good sign for the human body. It is crucial to note that the human body does not indulge in producing vitamin B12. Since cobalamin is essential for body growth and development, one has to take it from food sources. Dairy products, poultry items, fish, and meat are some food items that contain B12.

According to some reports, around 25% of adults have marginal or severe vitamin B12 deficiency. After discovering specific symptoms, a practitioner can suggest the route for vitamin B12 deficiency treatment. People that showcase deficiency symptoms take a vitamin B12 test to know the current levels in the body.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Normal Level

When vitamin B12 is less than the average level in the body, deficiency occurs. In healthy individuals, vitamin B12 is always between 200 ng/mL and 900 ng/mL. Vitamin B12 is always measured in nanograms in every millilitre of blood in the body. If vitamin B12 in the body is less than 200 ng/mL, it is a serious problem. Due to cobalamin deficiency, new red blood cells cannot be produced at the same rate. As a result, the individual might start suffering from anaemia, a lack of blood in the body.

How to know whether an individual requires vitamin B12 deficiency treatment? Well, a vitamin B12 blood test will let you know the current cobalamin levels in the body. If the blood test reports a lower level of cobalamin, the individual requires vitamin B12 deficiency treatment right away. A sample of blood is drawn from the vein puncture of the individual to conduct a vitamin B12 test. Anaemia is just one disease caused due to deficiency of cobalamin in the body. Many serious conditions and diseases can occur due to cobalamin deficiency in the body.

Causes for Cobalamin Deficiency in the Body

Numerous reasons lead to vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, like:

  • As discussed above, our body does not produce vitamin B12 internally. Therefore, we must depend on our diet for vitamin B12 intake. Sometimes, individuals do not intake milk, eggs, meat, and other food items that contain vitamin B12. As a result of poor diet/intake, cobalamin deficiency occurs in the body.
  • Sometimes, individuals eat foods rich in vitamin B12 but still suffer from a deficiency. It happens because the body cannot absorb the vitamin B12 present in the diet.
  • When a person suffers from pernicious anaemia, the stomach cannot produce the required intrinsic factors. When intrinsic factors are not produced in the right quantity, the intestines cannot absorb cobalamin.
  • Infection, excessive alcohol and many other factors lead to inflammation of the stomach lining. This condition is known as gastritis and is a cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the body.
  • Cohn’s disease, celiac disease, and other digestive ailments can lead to the non-absorption of vitamin B12 in the body.
  • Our body needs the calories present in our diet. Heavy alcohol consumers make it hard for the body to absorb nutrients. Your body may stop absorbing vitamin B12 due to excessive alcohol consumption.
  • A deficiency like Transcobalamin II can prevent the transport of cobalamin in all parts of the body. As a result, the patient will start showing vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.  
  • Certain medications can alter the absorption of cobalamin in the body. People undergoing vitamin B12 deficiency treatment should take medications carefully for other ailments.

What are the Common Symptoms of Cobalamin Deficiency?

Common vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are as follows:

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Paleness
  • Excessive/continuous weight loss
  • Depression
  • Oral manifestation issues
  • Severe headache
  • Numbness or a burning sensation in hands & feet
  • Cramps in muscles
  • Vision ailments

As one can see, there are many vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms. On experiencing any cobalamin deficiency symptoms, consult a doctor and take a vitamin B12 test.

What’s the Treatment for Cobalamin Deficiency?

Vitamin B12 deficiency treatment depends on the severity of the condition. An individual undergoes vitamin B12 deficiency treatment until the cobalamin levels are back to normal (between 200 – 900 ng/mL). Cobalamin deficiency treatment includes:

  • Offering cobalamin oral medication
  • Injecting B12 supplementation into the body
  • Offering nasal gel/spray consisting of vitamin B12

For prolonged cobalamin deficiency, the doctor provides injections at regular intervals. Hydroxocobalamin injection is widely used for vitamin B12 deficiency treatment. Vitamin B12 tablets are also available in the market that can help treat the deficiency to an extent. Vitamin B12 tablets are consumed once a day between two meals/diets.

Besides tablets and injections, diet-related treatments are also available for vitamin B12 deficiency. Individuals can consume meat, fish, egg, and dairy products to treat vitamin B12 deficiency up to an extent. Vegetarian individuals can consume soy food items, yeast, milk, and cheese to improve cobalamin levels in the body. Know more about vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms and treatments!

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