Vitamins are very important for us. They are the building blocks of a good health status. Vitamins are some sort of insurance that is beneficial in the maintenance and betterment of the health. One important vitamin is the vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 actually does a lot of wonder in our body. It helps in making the DNA and the red blood cells, and many other important kinds of stuff. Hence, it is right to have this essential vitamin in our diet. Furthermore, if you are lacking on this vitamin, it is very important to know what causes it, what are its symptoms, the treatments for vitamin B12 deficiency of course, and much other information about it. To know more, feel free to read on to this article.
Vitamin B12: What is this?
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Vitamin B12 is actually one of the vitamins that belong to the vitamin B complex group. This is in fact, the only vitamin, which contains the element cobalt. This is why it is also known as cobalamin. Furthermore, unlike some other vitamins that may come from various animal and plant source, the vitamin B12 may only come from the gut of animals. This makes it hard to obtain form either the plants of the sunlight. However, the minute microorganisms like algae, yeast, and bacteria may also produce this certain vitamin.
Furthermore, vitamin B12 is actually a vitamin that is water soluble, which plays a vital role in the proper functioning of the nervous system, as well as the brain. Additionally, it also works along with the folate in the DNA and red blood cells synthesis. It also plays a part in the creation of the myelin sheath around the nerves and in the conduction of nerve impulses.
We know that our body uses most of the water soluble vitamins and eliminates the rest through the urine. However, the essential vitamin –vitamin B12 is storable in the liver even up to 5 years. The essential vitamin actually comes in many forms, and in many names including cobalamin, cobamide, cobinamide, etc.
Vitamins B12 Deficiency
The lack of vitamin B12 or vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common than the thoughts of it. It is actually often characterized by the low blood level of vitamin B12. This certain condition is a usual battle for those who are strict vegans or vegetarians. This is mainly because they don’t eat meat, where the essential vitamin is exclusively present.
The diagnosis of the condition is quite easy because it can easily be known by a physical examination. The main signs that you have a vitamin B12 deficiency are the accelerated pulse and the sudden discoloration of the skin. A blood test is done to know if the red blood cells are low or not. The presence of the red blood cells is also perceived to see whether they are in good shape or not.
4 Stages of the Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Here are the four (4) stages of the deficiency in vitamin B12:
- Deteriorating levels of vitamin B12 in the body.
- Low vitamin B12 cellular concentrations.
- Increase in the homocysteine level in the blood and a decrease in the rate of DNA synthesis.
- The onset of macrocytic anemia.
Causes of the Vitamin B12 Deficiency
There are several factors that may contribute to the onset of the condition. Some of which are as follows:
- Nitrous oxide exposure
- Bacterial infection
- Lingering alcoholism
- Insufficient acid in our stomach
- Bowel difficulty
- Vegan or vegetarian diet
- Lack of glycoprotein
Symptoms of the Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Here are some of the most common symptoms of the vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Menstrual problems
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Chronic fatigue
- Decrease in blood clotting
- Disorientation or memory loss
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Light headedness, tiredness, and weakness
- Inflamed and swollen tongue
- Pale skin
- Upset stomach
- Weight loss
- Rapid breathing and heartbeat
- Difficulty in walking
- Numbness in the toes and fingers
- Confusion and forgetfulness
Treatments for Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Here are some of the most effective treatments for vitamin B12 deficiency:
Blood transfusion. This is given to the patient in the first couple of days till they may already take the injections.
Oral supplements. This is one of the most recommended treatments for vitamin B12 deficiency. Patients who don’t want injections as treatments, they may take some oral supplements. however, this must be under the supervision of a physician.
Injections. Those patients who suffer from a severe deficiency in this type of condition gets 5-7 injections in their first week. This is to restore their body’s reserves of vitamin B12.
Oral antibiotics. Oral antibiotics like tetracycline can be beneficial in treating vitamin B12 deficiency caused by the overgrowth of the intestinal bacteria. Moreover, this will not just help in stopping the overgrowth of the bacteria, but it may also help in the normal absorption of the vitamin.
Dietary changes. Having a change in the diet plan may help in getting rid of the deficiency. Usually, dairy products, meat, and milk are a good addition to the diet. These are all rich in vitamin B12, making it good for the condition.