Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin involved in metabolism. It is one of eight B vitamins. It is required by animals, which use it as a cofactor in the synthesis of DNA, in both fatty acid and amino acid metabolism.
The body needs Vitamin B12 to form red blood cells and DNA. It plays a major role in the function and development of brain and nerve cells. Vitamin B12 binds to the protein in the foods we eat. In the stomach, hydrochloric acid and enzymes unbind vitamin B12 into its free form.
As in all things that pertain to life, occasions arise such that there is a shortage of vitamin B12. And in such situation, there are signs the body gives, to indicate that there is a defiency of vitamin B12. Below are the signs….
Do your hands, feet, or legs feel like they’re on “pins and needles”? Shortage of B12 can damage the protective sheath that covers your nerves. Diseases like celiac, Crohn’s, or other gut illnesses may make it harder for your body to absorb the vitamin. Also, taking some heartburn drugs can cause this too.
You’re colder than usual
Without enough B12, you might not have enough healthy red blood cells to move oxygen around your body. This results in anaemia. That can leave you shivering and cold, especially in your hands and feet.
A lack of B12 may lead to depression, confusion, memory problems, and dementia. It also can affect your balance. B12 supplements are usually safe. For adults, doctors recommend 2.4 micrograms a day. If you take more than what you need, your body passes the rest out through your urine. Still, high doses could have some side effects, like dizziness, headache, anxiety, nausea, and vomiting.
Your muscles may lack strength. You also might feel tired or lightheaded. Your doctor can check how much B12 is in your body, but not all of it may be useable. So it’s important to pay attention to any symptoms, which can grow slowly or pop up more quickly, and when that happens please see your doctor.
Your doctor might call it atrophic glossitis. Tiny bumps on your tongue called papillae start to waste away. That makes it look and feel kind of smooth and glossy. Infections, medication, and other conditions can cause it, too. But if not enough B12 or other nutrients is to blame, your tongue also may be sore.
B12 deficiency is rare because the body can store several years’ supply of the stuff. But plants don’t have any B12. So vegans and vegetarians who don’t eat any animal products should add some processed grains like bread, crackers, and cereals fortified with vitamin B12.
Heart palpitation is a situation where the heart suddenly races or skips a beat. You might feel it in your throat or neck. You can get more vitamin B12 from chicken, eggs, and fish. But one of best sources by far is something that may not be a regular on your menu: beef liver.
Reasons for shortage
Age: As a person gets older, the body may not absorb B12 as easily. If you don’t treat it, low levels of B12 could lead to anaemia, nerve damage and other serious problems. So watch for any symptoms, and get a blood test if your doctor recommends it.
Weight surgery: One of the more common weight loss operations is called “gastric bypass.” After the surgery, food bypasses parts of your stomach and small intestine. That’s usually where B12 breaks down into usable form. Your doctor likely will monitor your B12 levels and suggest supplements or shots if you need them.
Mouth sores: You may get these ulcers on your gums or tongue. They could be a sign of low B12, anaemia, or another condition. The sores usually clear up on their own, but it helps to avoid ingredients that might be irritating or painful, like vinegar, citrus, and hot spices like chili powder. Some over-the-counter medicines could soothe your pain.
Medications: Some drugs cause the B12 levels to drop or make it harder for your body to use the vitamin. They include: chloramphenicol, an antibiotic used to treat infection; proton pump inhibitors like lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec); peptic ulcer medicines like cimetidine (Tagamet) and famotidine (Pepcid); metformin for diabetes; Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all drugs and supplements you take.
You might lose your appetite, drop too much weight, or have trouble emptying the bowel (that is experience (constipation). If your B12 levels are low, your doctor will often inject it into a muscle to be sure your body absorbs it. Sometimes, high doses of pills work just as well. But remember that symptoms of B12 deficiency can be similar to signs of many other illnesses.
Caution for pregnant vegetarians
Talk to your doctor about B12 supplements, both during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Infants who don’t get enough could have serious and permanent damage to their nerves or brain cells. Your baby might need supplements, too.