Vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) belongs to the vitamin B complex and is the only water-soluble vitamin that the body can store over several years.

Vitamin B12 is especially important for the formation of red blood cells, the function of the nervous system and the regeneration of the mucous membranes.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is one of the B vitamins. Vitamin B12 must be actively channelled through the mucosal cells in the intestine into the body. For vitamin B12 uptake, a special protein is necessary, the so-called intrinsic factor produced in the stomach.

The body stores vitamin B12 over several years, especially in the liver. Thus, the only water-soluble vitamin that the body can hold is B12.

Vitamin B12 comprises various cobalamins, which are compounds with the same chemical backbone. They are produced only by bacteria. It is enriched in animal products (liver, meat, eggs, dairy products), but is also found in microbially produced foods such as sauerkraut.

What is vitamin B12 for human body?

It affects a whole lot of important processes in the body, for example different metabolic processes. Vitamin B12 also has an effect on:

  • The construction of nerve cells in the spinal cord
  • Many reactions in protein and nucleic acid metabolism
  • The uptake of folic acid in the red blood cells

Since an adult’s body has large vitamin B12 depots, vitamin B12 deficiency often only occurs after years of undersupply- often in vegan people. One of the first symptoms is the so-called vitamin B12 deficiency is anemia.

What causes vitamin b12 deficiency?

The vitamin B12 value decreases when less of the vitamin is absorbed than consumed. This can be the case with a one-sided diet or with an increased need, for example during pregnancy or during lactation.

It is true that even a balanced vegetarian diet, where eggs and dairy products are eaten, can avoid vitamin B12 deficiency and cover the daily recommended daily intake of 3 micrograms for adults.

In contrast to other vitamins, Vitamin B12 also has a deficiency. Vitamin B12 is stored by the body for a long time, which is why under-supply can often only be determined with a delay of up to several years.

An estimated four to five percent of the population suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency – the consequences of decreased absorption or insufficient intake.

Among other things, there are risk groups for vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • Alcohol sufferers
  • Pregnant women
  • Babies
  • Persons over 60 years
  • Strict vegetarian / vegan diet
  • Operative removal of a part of the small intestine
  • Long-term administration of medicines, such as certain stomach acid inhibiting drugs

What are the symptoms of vitamin b12 deficiency?

The body needs vitamin B12 for various processes, for example for nerve function, cell division and blood formation. Therefore, vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms include eyes as well as hair, nerves and muscles.

Anemia is one of the first symptoms. Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms or vitamin B12 deficiency effects can also be:

  • Disturbances of the deep sensibility up to the paralysis
  • Cellular disorders in skin and mucous membranes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue, weakness of concentration, memory weakness
  • Headache, migraine
  • Depression
  • Food intolerances, allergies
  • In infants (severe) developmental disorders may occur with a vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Hair loss
  • Degeneration of the optic nerve

Vitamin B12 deficiency diagnostics

The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may be diffuse and subjectively severely impaired before they can be detected with medical measurement methods. Because neurological vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms (hair loss, sensory disturbances, reflexes, etc.) can be irreversible, it is still important to recognize the under-supply as early as possible.

For a long time the standard vitamin B12 deficiency was the measurement of the total vitamin B12 in the serum. However, this is a later and nonspecific biomarker and a correspondingly little sensitive vitamin B12 deficiency test.

Therefore, the measurement of holotranscobalamin (holo-TC) is increasingly established because it reflects the status of the actually active vitamin B12. However, this vitamin B12 test is twice as expensive as the standard test.

How does a vitamin B12 overdose manifest?

Too much vitamin B12 can hardly be absorbed, the body stops the absorption automatically, if the vitamin B12 vitamin climbs too high.

However, there are some cases of overdose. For example, vitamin B12 increases excessively in the body:

  • Liver metastases
  • Acute or chronic hepatitis
  • Too high intake of vitamin B12
  • Leukemia, polycythaemia vera

Normally, vitamin B12 from foods has no side effects. Vitamin B12 in the form of syringes or infusions can lead to allergic shock in rare cases. In case of hypersensitivity, acne, eczema or nutritive condition are very rare.

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