Are You Vitamin B12 Deficient? Dr Swati Bathwal Explains The Symptoms And Dietary Needs

Updated at: Jul 01, 2020
Are You Vitamin B12 Deficient? Dr Swati Bathwal Explains The Symptoms And Dietary Needs

Vitamin B12 deficiency can be a reason for various health concerns. Here are some essentials that you need to know about this deficiency

Dr. Swati Bathwal
Other DiseasesWritten by: Dr. Swati BathwalPublished at: Jul 01, 2020

Vitamin B12 is crucial in providing energy to our body. It is necessary for our brain function, nerve function, heart health and production of red blood cells. Our body has enough store for vitamin b12 and it takes long for our body to run low on this vitamin. But more often stress, acidity, use of certain medication can interfere in our body to absorb it from food. If you are feeling tired or lethargic or if you are experiencing pins and needles in your feet or having weakness in your legs, you could be low in this wonder vitamin B12, also known as cyanocobalamin. Vegan and vegetarians are certainly at a higher risk of vitamin b12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is not made by plants, it is made up by the microbes that blanket the earth. When we sanitize water and add chlorine to water it kills the bacteria. I am not saying that do not boil water but what I am saying is we must find ways to substitute vitamin B12 through foods and no become deficient. For anyone following vegan or vegetarian diet, vitamin B12 is critical for them. Vitamin B12 deficiency can have severe health consequences.

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What Happens In Vitamin B12 Deficiency? 

Patients with lower B12 also have low levels of haemoglobin. Low levels of vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause a substantial increase in total homocysteine concentrations. Elevated homocysteine levels which can be caused in vitamin B12 deficiency can cause coronary heart disease and stroke. Elevated homocysteine levels can cause coronary heart disease and stroke. A combination of vitamin B12 and folate decreases homocysteine levels. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also lead to anemia called as megaloblastic anemia. Once, this is corrected even athletes are working towards endurance sport and is often used by athletes for sports performance. Most likely because vitamin B12 provides energy. It helps in the formation of our DNA and supports our nervous system.

Researchers have linked vitamin B12 deficiency and dementia. This is because of accumulation of homocysteine in the blood, this decreases levels of some substances which are required to use neurotransmitters. This can also contribute to Alzheimer’s and lack of concentration.

Causes Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency  

Long term gastritis can make our stomach lining thin which can cause malabsorption. Certain antacids like pantoprazole, omeprazole, nexiun also contributes to low levels of vitamin b12. Anti- diabetes medication like metformin, decreases vitamin b12 levels. Immune disorders like lupus or Grave’s diseases or conditions of small intestine like Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease also leads to malabsorption of vitamin B 12. 

Sources Of Vitamin B12 - Vitamin B12 Enriched Diet  

Vitamin B12 are mainly found in animal sources like eggs, fish, turkey, chicken, milk, milk products like cheese, paneer, khoya, curd, milk powder etc. The only non-animal sources of vitamin b12 are nutritional yeast, seaweeds, cashews, sesame seeds. 

Limit Of Vitamin B12 Supplements: Adults deficient in vitamin B12, can consume 2,500 micrograms supplement each week. With age vitamin B12 absorption declines so adults above 65 years of age must consume 1,000 micrograms of cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12) each day. Vitamin b12 is a water-soluble vitamin, so excess of Vitamin B12 supplements are less likely to get toxic. But it is good to consult a physician before supplementing. 

Indian diet is rich in vitamin b12 foods. Some of my favorite are lassi, buttermilk, paneer, eggs bhurji, curd rice, chicken and fish curry, sesame laddoo, cashew ladoo, cashew burfi, mewa burfi, paneer parantha, egg roll, chicken stir fry to name a few. If you are a vegan incorporate seaweed, nori, shitake mushrooms, cashew cream, cashew butter, tahini, nutritional yeast in your meal plan. 

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Shall we get tested for vitamin b12? Yes, especially if you are a vegan or have prolonged issues with acidity or above underlying medical conditions you should get tested every 6 months. Intravenous supplementation of vitamin b12 can be considered for those who are critically low. However, there are certain set dosage of administering it, therefore it is important to consult your physician. Vitamin B12 deficiency should not be ignored and if you haven’t got tested for vitamin b12 levels you must get it checked. 

Disclaimer: Above advise is a generic advise for general population based on standard recommendations, if you have any specific needs please discuss with your health practitioner. 

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