There are many different vitamins that we are supposed to have every day to maintain a healthy level of living, one of those that is often neglected is vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that can only be provided to the body through eating animal products such as dairy, meat, fish or via vitamin supplements. There are no plants that produce B12 as a normal part of their life cycle.
Vitamin B12 itself is responsible for the proper formation of red blood cells. Without vitamin B12 your body isn’t able to produce the cells that your body needs to function properly. It also is responsible for the proper function of your nervous system and the health of the tissues that belong to the nerve system.
Because there are no plants that produce vitamin B12 the people who are most at risk for deficiency are those on a vegan or strict vegetarian diet. The best way to get B12 is through meat, eggs, poultry, and similar items. There are a lot of vitamin companies out there though that produce B12 supplements or include it in multivitamins.
Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
While B12 deficiency is common, many people do not always know that is what is causing their symptoms. This is because while doctors may know the symptoms of B12 deficiency and suspect it, it takes blood work to actually prove that Vitamin B12 is the cause.
B12 deficiency has a variety of symptoms.
Here are some of the ones that you are most likely to see:
- Being excessively tired (fatigue)
- An unusual shortness of breath and/or panting
- Irregular beating of the heart including fast heart rate and strong heart rate
- Paleness of the skin
Those are the basic symptoms of B12 deficiency. If you catch the problem at this stage you stand very little chance of getting anything more serious. However, if you don’t catch it at this stage it will continue to get worse.
Here are some of the more long-term symptoms of B12 deficiency.
- Sore mouth and/or tongue
- Loss of weight (sometimes severe)
- Random diarrhea
- More likely to have infections
- More severe Pale or yellowing in the skin
- Numbness in fingers, toes, and other appendages
- Difficulty with orientation and walking
- Abnormal muscle weakness
- Confusion and irritability
These more serious symptoms of deficiency in your vitamin B12 levels indicate that you are having problems that you need to address right away. If you have any of these symptoms, you should speak with your doctor immediately.
How To Treat Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Once a doctor has diagnosed you with B12 deficiency you will begin treatment immediately to prevent further damage to your body. To treat severe B12 deficiency a doctor will prescribe regular B12 injections until your levels are under control. After your levels are under control you will have to have periodic injections for life or take daily B12 supplements.
For less severe B12 deficiency you will be instructed by your doctor to take B12 supplements every day. The doctor will give you periodic blood tests to determine if your levels are getting under control. Depending on how your levels hold you might need to keep taking supplements. No matter what you will need to be cautious about your intake of vitamin B12.
B12 is Not A Magical Cure
B12 is a vitamin that our bodies need to be healthy, it isn’t a cure for diseases. Many different articles have started to pop up around the internet and most of these with little evidence. The lack of evidence is because vitamin B12 isn’t a medication, it’s a necessary nutritional part of your diet.
For example, many people have started to believe that B12 will help to cure Alzheimer’s disease. There is no proof of this. What it is good for is ensuring long-term health. When you ensure that you have proper B12 levels you will notice that your body is healthier and that your mind is sharper. This isn’t because you are curing anything, it is because you are restoring your body’s natural levels.
Educating your family and yourself about vitamin B12 is important. The vitamin is one of the lesser known amongst the public yet, deficiency in the vitamin can leave your body severely damaged. By being better educated on the side effects and options out there you can ensure that everyone you know can live a healthy life.
The information written here is not meant as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor or other qualified health professional prior to following what is written on the article or taking herbal supplements of any kind.