Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and is needed to keep nerve cells healthy.
Vitamin B12 deficiency ( cobalamin deficiency )is a medical condition with low levels of B12 in the blood. According to studies, one in five adults in the United States suffers from vitamin B12 deficiency.
It is called an energy vitamin and its deficiency can result in a number of health problems, including some potentially very serious conditions.
The average adult should receive 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily. Your body cannot produce vitamin B12 and you must get it from food or supplements. Good sources of vitamin B12 include dairy products, eggs, fish, meat and poultry.
Although soluble in water, vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, kidneys and other body tissues, so a lack of vitamin B12 can go unnoticed for a long time. Therein lies the danger. By the time the condition is discovered, irreversible damage may have already been done.
Some of the symptoms are fatigue, cognitive problems and tingling in the arms and legs.
In this article, you will learn about the role of vitamin B12 in the body, the causes and symptoms, how to treat this vitamin deficiency and how long it takes to resolve B12 deficiency.
What is Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) and What Does it Do?
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is an important micronutrient that is necessary for DNA synthesis and energy supply to cells.
The reason why it is so important to correct vitamin B12 deficiency is that a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to macrocytic anemia. This type of anemia with vitamin deficiency causes large red blood cells and low hemoglobin.
According to research published in the journal Nutrients, vitamin B12 is commonly found in proteins in most animal foods. To prevent this condition, your body must absorb this vitamin during digestion. You get vitamin B12 from foods such as liver, beef, chicken, eggs and dairy foods. (3)
Vitamin B12 and intrinsic factor are closely related. Researchers from the University of Rochester say that the intrinsic factor is a protein in the gastric mucosa that helps in the absorption of vitamin B12. Sometimes doctors check whether this protein causes an autoimmune condition caused by an inadequate intrinsic factor associated with a lack of cobalamin (vitamin B12).
If you have been diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, you will no doubt wonder how long it will take to resolve B12 deficiency.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Deficiency
It is important to get rid of the symptoms of cobalamin deficiency because it can have serious consequences. Doctors warn that chronic vitamin B12 deficiency can be life-threatening.
The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are often not very specific, so vitamin B12 deficiency can go unnoticed for a long time.
Fortunately, B12 deficiency is reversible if you notice the symptoms in time and take steps to address vitamin B12 deficiency.
Fatigue and extreme weakness
One of the most common signs that you are lacking a sufficient level of vitamin B12 is extreme fatigue.
Fatigue is a common symptom in most types of anemia because a lack of red blood cells leads to insufficient oxygen uptake by your cells.
Doctors from the National Health Service say that vitamin B12 deficiency caused by malabsorption of B12 can cause extreme fatigue.
In some cases, doctors recommend a B12 supplement for people who suffer from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
Shortness of Breath
Lack of energy caused deficiency of vitamin B will also lead to shortness of breath.
Doctors report that low intrinsic factor with B12 deficiency can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath. In one case, these low B12 levels also resulted in extreme fatigue, hair changes, and hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin B12 deficiency will also cause you to have skin that lacks color or has a yellowish appearance.
One of the important roles of B12 is to help create red blood cells of the right size in your body. When there is not enough cobalamin in your body, large blood cells cause megaloblastic anemia. One of the symptoms of B12 deficiency anemia is pale skin.
If you do not have enough vitamin B12, your tongue can to become inflamed, swollen and painful.
This symptom of B12 deficiency is called glossitis and occurs in about one quarter of people with vitamin B deficiency. Doctors say that there may be red lesions on the tongue, and tingling can also occur. The tongue should return to normal when B12 deficiency is identified.
In one case, B12 deficiency was corrected very quickly with a single injection of 1,000 µg of vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia can cause other oral symptoms besides a swollen tongue. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency in adults also include mouth ulcers, oral infections, and burning sensation in the mouth.
One of the neurological symptoms associated with B12 deficiency is problems related to brain function and memory.
Some scientific studies have shown an association with B12 deficiency in adults and the early onset of dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Correcting vitamin B12 levels in humans can help improve symptoms of cognitive impairment if it is caused by B12 deficiency anemia.
In one case, neurological symptoms were the only symptom for an adult who had lower levels of vitamin B12 than normal. Before the vitamin B12 deficiency was reversed, the man had difficulty walking, weakness of the lower limbs and general fatigue.
Tingling in Hands and Feet
One of the ways that lack of vitamin B12 can affect your nerves by causing a tingling sensation.
One study involving over 2,200 adults found that vitamin B12 deficiency affects peripheral nerve function. This can result in tingling in the legs and arms, weakness in the limbs, and even loss of sensation. Rapid fixation of B12 levels by oral supplementation may help prevent or treat neurological symptoms. (19)
Other studies have shown that a lack of vitamin B12 or folate (vitamin B9) can result in megaloblastic anemia. Tingling, dizziness, vertigo, and even seizures reports as a symptom of chronic vitamin B12 deficiency
Difficulty Maintaining Balance
The neurological effects of poor vitamin B12 levels can also affect your balance and gait.
Researchers from Germany say that it is important to eliminate vitamin B12 deficiency as soon as possible. Older people who show signs of low B12 often have difficulty maintaining balance. Dietary supplementation with cobalamin (vitamin B12) helps to normalize metabolism in the body and prevent worsening of neurological conditions.
Changes in Mood
Low levels of vitamin B12 can result in noticeable mood swings such as depression and mood swings.
A review of tests with vitamin B12 supplementation for depression found that correcting deficits can help manage depression. Although taking vitamin B12 was not a quick fix for depressive symptoms, long-term supplementation can help manage depression.
Vitamin B12 deficiency in children and adolescents can also affect mood. In some cases, a lack of adequate levels of vitamin B12 can cause psychotic episodes and mood disorders until the deficiency is resolved.
Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency
Depending on the severity of the vitamin B12 deficiency, the symptoms could last from a few weeks to a few months. However, oral supplements or injections can help address B12 deficiency.
What are some ways to quickly correct it?
Food sources of vitamin B12
Sometimes you can help correct or prevent dietary anemia. Ensuring that your diet includes foods rich in vitamin B12 will help keep the level within the normal range.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for people over 14 is 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day.
Here are some of the best foods to consume to enjoy a vitamin B12-rich diet:
Liver and kidneys
These types of meat are good for getting enough iron in the diet, as well as a lot of cobalamin.
3 oz. (85 g) lamb liver can help increase vitamin B12 levels. One serving of liver contains 65 mcg of vitamin B12, which is 2700% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B12.
A portion of beef kidney of similar size will give you 21 mcg of vitamin B12, which is 875% of your recommended daily allowance (RDI) of vitamin B12.
Fatty fish, such as sardines, are good to eat to help correct vitamin B12 levels. One can of sardines contains 8.2 mcg of vitamin B-12, which is 341% of your RDI.
One salty beef steak can provide you with about 11.5 mcg
Other foods high in vitamin B12
Doctors recommend that you include foods such as eggs, dairy products and meat to maintain vitamin B12 levels.
How to get enough vitamin B12 on a vegan diet
If you stick to a strict vegetarian diet, it can be a challenge to get adequate amounts of vitamin B12.
Some reports say it can take three years for symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency to appear after a person goes on a vegan diet.
Some studies show that over 80% of vegan children show signs of B12 deficiency, and up to 90% of elderly people who are vegan do not have enough of this vitamin .
Non-animal possibilities of vitamin B12 include nutritious yeast and vitamin B12-enriched products, such as B12-enriched almond milk and cereals, and some breads. One medical study says that dried purple lavender (nori) is the most suitable source of vitamin B12 currently available to vegetarians.