The building bases of our bodies are cells. These cells derive their nutrition from the food we eat. Nutrition for these cells comes in the form of glucose, protein and essential vitamins and minerals. While all vitamins are essential, vitamin B12 holds a prominent position. This is because many of body’s vital functions are dependent on its proper quantity. Vitamin B12 is also known as Cobalamin.
Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, therefore it cannot be stored for long in the body. This is why you need to replenish it in your body regularly. Also, if you are a small baby, pregnant woman or growing child, you will need it more quantities than others.
Vegans should take food items fortified with Vitamin B12. It is mostly present in animal products. So milk, butter, fish, meat, dairy products, and poultry are rich sources of this vitamin. As we grow older, the body reduces its ability to absorb Vitamin B12. Even those who have recently had a weight loss surgery, who drink heavily and regularly and those who have been on antacids are more susceptible towards a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
The deficiency can be treated first with injectable supplements and later supplements that can be had orally or through the nasal passage may be handed out to the patient.
Effects of Deficiency
When the deficiency of this vitamin is present in small amounts, the symptoms do not manifest themselves. However, if left untreated, the results are telling, indeed.
- It is essential for nerve health. The brain cannot function properly without it. Depression, memory fatigue, confusion are some of the immediate effects. If still left untreated it can turn into psychosis and dementia. People also experience nerve tingling and muscular weakness. Many people develop sensations of ‘pins and needles’ due to nerve damage.
- It is needed to make red blood cells. These cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues. Insufficient quantities of Vitamin B12 can lead to anemia. Menstrual problems, irregular heartbeats, intense fatigue, and breathlessness are just some effects of vitamin induced anemia.
- It is required for an efficient immune system. Deficiency of this vitamin could lead to distressing susceptibility towards diseases and infections.
- Low levels of Vitamin B12 can also lead to vision loss and skin problems like acne.
- Many people also begin to suffer from constipation, diarrhea, appetite loss, bloating and flatulence.
- People who have a deficiency of vitamin B12 develop pallor. The skin looks very pale and may even develop a yellow undertone appearing to be jaundiced.
- Deficiency makes the person prone to imbalance and falling. There is a loss of coordination, and some even lose their mobility.