In addition to carbohydrates, fats and proteins, the human organism also needs various vitamins. This includes vitamin B12. A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause numerous symptoms and should be treated.
What is vitamin B12 deficiency?
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in health. The need can be described as very low, but it should not be missing. The vitamin contributes to blood formation, cell growth, cell division, formation of the membrane of neurons, production of DNA and RNA and the absorption of folic acid. For methylmalonic aciduria explanation, please visit percomputer.com.
The important functions of the vitamin also explain the severe extent of a deficiency. This can come about due to various factors. Contrary to many rumours, not only vegans and vegetarians suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency. In general, a doctor should be consulted if there is any suspicion. Otherwise there is a risk of serious long-term consequences.
Diet may be the cause. B12 can only be found in animal products. Accordingly, the risk of developing B12 deficiency is higher for people who do not eat meat and/or milk and eggs. However, due to the right preparations, such a diet does not pose a fundamental problem. In addition, B12 is mainly found in the intestines, which are relatively rarely consumed in Germany.
The preparation of food can destroy the vitamin. Therefore, a deficiency is also quite possible and common among people who do not do without animal products. In some situations, the need for the vitamin may increase. If it is not covered, a deficiency may arise. In the case of stress, physical work, lovesickness, sadness or fear, the organism needs more vitamin B12, which can be attributed to the poorer processing due to stress.
The body also uses B12 to make various hormones. In such situations, an increased release of adrenaline or dopamine is normal, the memory is used up faster. The requirement usually doubles during pregnancy. Furthermore, a functional disorder can be the cause of the symptoms.
The vitamin is only absorbed through the oral mucosa or the intestines. Intestinal irritation, alcohol abuse or chronic intestinal diseases sometimes severely limit absorption. In addition, some drugs can inhibit absorption.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A vitamin B12 deficiency manifests itself in different ways. If it is already pronounced, depression, tiredness and paleness, confusion, brain weakness, tingling in the hands and feet, injuries to the mucous membranes, paralysis and burning tongue occur. The typical pallor results from anemia due to the involvement of B12 in the production of red blood cells.
A deficiency can therefore assume serious proportions. It is often diagnosed late. Accordingly, it can be helpful to address your own suspicions openly. After all, the level of the B12 can be proven perfectly. A shortage does not appear overnight. The human organism is able to store enough vitamin B12.
That is why the symptoms only become noticeable after a few months or years. Until then, the body’s own resources are sufficient to cover the need. It is therefore unlikely that you will immediately develop a vitamin B12 deficiency if you change your diet to a purely plant-based diet.
Diagnosis & course of disease
The diagnosis can be made in different ways. A blood test is common . The B12 is usually not measured directly. For children, a urine test is suitable to determine a possible deficiency.
If left untreated, anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to cardiovascular complications: In the long term, increased stress on the heart is possible. The reduced oxygen transport also increases the risk of circulatory collapse. The latter can lead to further complications – for example, falls that may result in injuries.
The lack of vitamin B12 itself can also cause complications. Permanent neurological disorders are also possible without treatment. Adequate compensation for the deficiency should therefore take place as early as possible. Neurological symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency manifest themselves, for example, as a numb feeling or tingling in the arms or legs.
In addition to the general symptoms of anemia, there may be other signs of vitamin B12 anemia. These include tiredness, paleness, indigestion, weakness, bleeding gums, and lightheadedness. In addition, the speed of heartbeat and breathing may increase.
Mental complications include impaired memory, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and depressed mood. In some cases, psychotic perceptions in the form of hallucinations, flight of thoughts or similar symptoms are also possible. In addition, a severe lack of vitamin B12 can manifest itself with personality changes.
In particular, concentration and memory problems can lead to a deterioration in professional or school performance. Overall, the various symptoms may also contribute to the affected person withdrawing socially.
When should you go to the doctor?
In the case of a vitamin B12 deficiency, the affected person should always contact a doctor, as it does not heal on its own. In order to prevent further complications and a further deterioration of the symptoms, a doctor should be contacted as soon as the first symptoms and symptoms of the disease appear.
A doctor should be consulted if the person concerned suffers from permanent fatigue, paleness and depression. Confusion or a strong tingling in the hands can also indicate the disease. If these symptoms persist over a longer period of time and occur for no particular reason, you should definitely consult a doctor. The symptoms can also occur if the person concerned has changed their diet, as this can also lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
In most cases, a vitamin B12 deficiency can be detected relatively easily with a blood test and can also be treated. A general practitioner can be contacted to carry out the examination.
Treatment & Therapy
A deficiency must be treated. If it is pronounced, injections are often used, which quickly refill the storage. Such a method is often also necessary when there is a functional disorder of the intestine. Taking pills would have no effect here. Lozenges can also be consumed.
Because the vitamin is also absorbed through the oral mucosa, it is an effective method that is also suitable for children. Many of the preparations are purely plant-based and are therefore also recommended for vegetarians and vegans. In order to treat the deficiency, preparations with a very high dosage are usually used. These usually have to be taken daily.
At the beginning of the treatment, it is a high dosage that exceeds the actual daily requirement. Once the deficiency has disappeared, maintenance therapy begins, the aim of which is to meet daily needs. If you decide to use an injection, you may only have to take the liquid once a month. With practice, the injections can be administered at home without medical assistance. Proper handling of syringes is particularly important for people with poor B12 utilization.
In such a case, it is likely that even after the deficiency has been remedied, the need for an additional B12 supply will remain. Otherwise a new deficiency would develop. In addition to treating the symptoms, research is also carried out into the causes. If handling with syringes is not successful, lozenges remain as an alternative.
In the event of a disruption in utilization, high-dose preparations must be taken. These are usually prescribed by the attending physician. Because vitamin B12 cannot be overdosed, undesirable side effects can be ruled out.
A vitamin B12 deficiency can be prevented. The vitamin is only found in small amounts in food. That’s why it can make sense to use lozenges. This applies in particular to risk groups such as pregnant women, alcoholics, vegans, vegetarians, smokers and breastfeeding women. Many of the preparations are natural and have no side effects.
As with general vitamin deficiency, there are no strict guidelines for follow-up care in the case of successfully treated hypocobalaminemia. The symptoms caused by the deficiency usually disappear completely on their own after a short time. In western and industrialized countries, irreversible damage caused by vitamin deficiencies that requires treatment is extremely rare.
Eating a balanced diet is crucial for successful aftercare. A nutritional consultation can complement the treatment. A thorough examination of the underlying processes by the patient enables self-determined, safe prevention.
Unless the underlying cause of hypocobalaminemia is an incurable condition, supplementation must be continued on an ongoing basis. Regardless of the cause of the vitamin B12 deficiency, the B12 level in the body should be checked regularly during aftercare. Both urine tests and blood tests, which the patient can carry out independently at home, are suitable for this purpose.
A renewed drop in the values can thus be noticed and prevented at an early stage. If the B12 store has been completely and correctly replenished during the course of the treatment, no further follow-up treatments are necessary apart from regular blood tests. If the symptoms suddenly reappear, a doctor must be consulted again.
You can do that yourself
If you suspect a vitamin B12 deficiency, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Slight deficiency symptoms can usually be remedied by changing your diet. The B12 vitamin is found in animal products such as milk, cheese, eggs, fish and meat. Especially liver, oysters and trout have a high vitamin B12 content. Vegans compensate for a vitamin B12 deficiency with soy milk, sea buckthorn berries or supplements from the pharmacy.
Severe deficiency symptoms must be treated with dietary supplements. Tablets or pills supply the organism with sufficient vitamin B12 and counteract the symptoms. Accompanying the change in diet, it is important to identify and eliminate the individual complaints. It is best for those affected to keep a complaints diary and also record the food and drinks consumed daily in a food diary.
If the symptoms persist despite a change in diet, the doctor must be consulted. A severe and long-lasting vitamin B12 deficiency can cause permanent damage that can only be compensated for. Typical are visual disturbances or skin changes that can be treated with aids or cosmetic measures. A medical specialist or a nutritionist can explain which measures make sense in detail.