Vitamin B12 deficiency
Are you suffering from recurrent oral ulcers? Do not ignore them, you might be suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency. Although mild deficiency of vitamin B 12 does not cause major health complications, if left untreated for a longer time it may lead to numerous health problems.
According to Dr. Girish Parmar, Consultant Endocrinologist and Metabolic Physician, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai, some of the common signs of vitamin B 12 deficiency are
- Excessive fatigue
- Easy bruising
- Weight loss
- Stomach complications (constipation or diarrhoea)
- Stomach upset
- Pale skin
- Increase heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Memory loss
- Tingling in the arms and legs
In some cases, people diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's disease were found to be suffering from vitamin B 12 deficiency.
Causes & Risk factors
Dr. Rajiv Khosla, Gastroenterologist, Max Super specialty hospital, Saket says 'You can suffer from B12 deficiency if you do not eat enough animal products like milk, cheese, eggs or are vegetarian as it does not fulfill your daily requirement of vitamin B 12. However, in most cases, vitamin B 12 deficiency is caused due to an underlying health condition.' These include -
Pernicious anemia (Vitamin B 12 deficiency anemia) -- In this, vitamin B12 is not absorbed by the body due to lack of Intrinsic factor, a substance secreted by the stomach, which helps in the absorption of vitamin B12 by the intestine. This in turn leads to decreased production of blood cells.
Atrophic gastritis -- It is a condition resulting in thinning of the stomach lining.
Surgery -- In case you recently underwent a surgery of the small intestine or bariatric surgery for weight loss, you might suffer from this condition.
Diseases and conditions that affect the small intestine -- Celiac disease, Crohn's disease or bacterial or parasite inflammation increase your risk of B 12 deficiency. This is because they hinder the absorption of vitamin B12.
Immune disorders -- Diseases such as Graves' disease or lupus can also cause Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
Heavy drinking - Excessive intake of alcohol can lead to vitamin B 12 deficiency. Here are few more side-effects of alcohol you should know about.
Medications -- If you suffer from acidity and have been using antacids for a long time, you are at a high risk of developing vitamin B 12 deficiency.
In case you have any of these symptoms that do not subside within two days, consult a doctor. Your doctor might recommend a blood test to detect the blood levels of vitamin B 12. In some cases, CBC (complete blood count) can also be recommended as high levels of MCV (mean corpuscular volume) in the blood also signify vitamin B 12 deficiency.
In most cases, deficiency of vitamin B 12 can be treated with the help of supplements (either as oral medications or injections) or diet correction.
Dietary changes: If you are a vegetarian or do not eat animal products, supplementing your diet with foods rich in vitamin B 12 might help.
Vitamin B 12 supplements: Your doctor might recommend 1500 mg once a day for 2 - 3 months. If the condition is severe, an initial dose of 500 micrograms once a week for 6 week followed by a maintenance dose of 50 micrograms once a month is prescribed.
You can prevent vitamin B 12 deficiency by fulfilling your daily dose of vitamin B 12 through diet. Foods that are rich in vitamin B 12 are dairy products like cheese, milk, fish, eggs, meat, poultry and fortified cereals.
The content has been verified by Dr Girish Parmar, Consultant Endocrinologist and Metabolic Physician, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai.