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The prevalence of mineral deficiencies is higher than vitamin deficiencies, statistics shows. Still, while only an estimate, one in four adults is deficient in vitamin B12.
This articles focuses on the causes of vitamin B12, the major symptoms as well as a few tips on how to fix this deficiency in an all-natural way.
Given that it boosts energy in the afternoon and gives an energy boost while doing cardio exercises, vitamin B12 is often referred to as the ‘energy’ vitamin.
Besides, it is viewed as an effective weight loss tool and has become all the rage at medical weight loss clinic. Its popularity goes to the extent of clinics and health spas offering discounts for vitamin B12 injections.
Although this vitamin doesn’t provide real energy boost on its own, it helps a lot in case you are diagnosed with condition like megaloblastic anemia, which makes you weak and fatigued. The reason for this is the importance of vitamin B12 in the formation of red blood cells which carry oxygen to all cells in the body.
Vitamin B12 is of utmost importance as it takes vital role in many bodily functions. Among them are:
- Proper digestion
- Iron absorption
- Metabolism of fat and carbs
- Nerve growth and formation
- Healthy reproductive system in women
- Secretion of adrenal hormone
- Formation of red blood cells
- Healthy nervous system
CAUSES OF VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY
Deficiency in vitamin B12 may be triggered by different factors, out of which the following are most common:
- Antacids affect the assimilation of vitamin B12 since the body needs enough stomach acid to absorb it
- Nitrous oxide, also known as the laughing gas, destroys vitamin B12 in the body
- Drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day leads to a 15 percent reduction in vitamin B12 levels
- Gastric bypass weight loss surgery changes the digestive mechanisms, affecting the absorption of vitamin B12
- The H. pylori bacteria destroys stomach cells that create the “intrinsic factor”, which are needed for absorption of vitamin B12
SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY
1. Optic Nerve Damage / Vision Problems
In case you notice any changes in your vision, such as double or blurry vision, test your vitamin B12 levels as deficiency in this vitamin often leads to vision problems.
Since vitamin B12 stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin, known as the ‘happy’ brain chemicals, anxiety is often a warning sign of low vitamin B12 levels.
3. Changes in Taste
The bumps on the tongue are the ones responsible for recognizing the taste of the food you eat. In case you notice changes in your taste and often get a ‘blah’ impression of the food, it is very likely that you are deficient in vitamin B12.
4. Yellow Skin
When the body lacks vitamin B12, it loses its ability to produce strong cells. The degradation of red blood cells causes yellow skin and is a sure sign of vitamin B12 deficiency.
5. Memory Loss
Memory loss is often caused by vitamin B12 deficiency, especially in younger individuals who are young to develop dementia.
6. Inability to Keep Your Eyes Open
This is result of lack of oxygen in the blood, which is directly caused by the vitamin deficiency itself.
Feeling dizzy is yet another sign of lack of oxygen in the blood.
Feeling numb and tingly is a result of nerve damage, which occurs due to vitamin B12 deficiency.
RISK GROUPS PRONE TO B12 DEFICIENCY
- Vegans and vegetarians who don’t eat products of animal origin
- Diabetics on Metformin, as this drug affects the absorption of vitamin B12
- People aged 60 and over who do not have enough stomach acid
- People diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, such as celiac or Crohn’s disease
DIETARY SOURCES OF VITAMIN B12
The best way to obtain vitamin B12 is from animal sources and fortified foods. The ones below are some of the best dietary sources of vitamin B12:
Meat: turkey, lamb, pork, beef, chicken, goat
Dairy: yoghurt, cottage cheese , cow’s milk, hard and soft cheese, cream cheese
Eggs: especially the yolk
Seafood: scallops, sardines, shrimp, salmon, tuna, cod
Vegan sources: nutritional yeast, fortified coconut milk, or tempeh