Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs when the body’s supply of vitamin B12 is insufficient. Vitamin B12, commonly known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for many body functions, including red blood cell creation, DNA synthesis, and optimal nervous system function. It is primarily acquired through animal-based foods such as meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs.
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that helps your body maintain the health of your nerve and blood cells. It also aids in the production of DNA, the genetic material found in all of your cells. Because your body does not produce vitamin B12 on its own, you must consume vitamin B12-containing foods and beverages to obtain it. Vitamin B12 is present in animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs. It is also found in fortified foods (foods that have been fortified with vitamins and nutrients), such as certain cereals, bread, and nutritional yeast.
Adults require about 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 per day, while pregnant or lactating women require more. The quantity of vitamin B12 babies and children need varies based on age.
A lack of vitamin B12 can result in physical, neurological, and psychological consequences. Vitamin B12 insufficiency symptoms can appear gradually and worsen with time. Despite having a low level of vitamin B12 in their systems, some people may not experience any symptoms. Without anaemia (a loss of red blood cells), people with vitamin B12 deficiency can experience neurological symptoms and/or harm.
Vitamin B12 insufficiency symptoms can range in severity and affect numerous body systems. The following are some common indications and symptoms:
Fatigue: Feeling tired and weak despite enough rest.
Anaemia: A lack of vitamin B12 can result in megaloblastic anaemia, a disorder in which red blood cells grow larger than normal and fail to function properly. This can lead to decreased oxygen-carrying capacity and symptoms such as pale skin, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Problems with the Nervous System: Vitamin B12 is necessary for the health of nerve cells. Symptoms of deficiency include numbness, tingling, and a “pins and needles” sensation, particularly in the hands and feet. It can also cause trouble walking, balance problems, and memory problems.
Cognitive and Mood Changes: Memory issues, difficulty concentrating, and mental confusion are examples of cognitive symptoms. Mood swings, such as depression, anxiety, and irritability, are also possible.
Glossitis and Mouth Ulcers: Glossitis is an inflammation of the tongue that causes it to become swollen, red, and smooth. Mouth ulcers can also form and cause pain.
Digestive disorders: Some persons who are deficient in vitamin B12 may develop digestive disorders such as diarrhoea, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Vision Issues: In severe situations of vitamin B12 insufficiency, vision abnormalities and impaired vision might occur.
Heart Palpitations and Shortness of Breath: Anaemia induced by vitamin B12 deficiency can produce an accelerated heart rate, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath.