When you hear about someone being anemic, you may automatically assume that it means they are low in iron or ferritin, but actually if you are anemic, it more likely could mean you are low on vitamin B12. As reported by Express, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which can be quite subtle.
From feeling breathless or faint to low energy and muscle weakness, as well as loss of appetite and weight loss, a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause serious issues if you don’t know what’s going on and make efforts to mediate them.
- Digestive issues
- Skin infections
- Mental confusion
- Nerve problems (numbness, tingling, trouble walking)
Other symptoms may include mouth sores, poor vision, forgetfulness, menstrual disorders and pale complexion.
Central nervous system disorders are also associated with a deficiency in vitamin B, including dementia and Alzheimer’s. In the U.S., Alzheimer’s disease is at epidemic proportions, with 5.4 million Americans living with the disease and the number expected to jump to 16 million by 2050.
In a study published in PNAS researchers found vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, confirming and supporting previous studies.
Psychiatric conditions also respond significantly to vitamin B supplementation. Research has demonstrated it reduces symptoms associated with schizophrenia more so than standard drug treatments alone. When used together with antipsychotics, vitamin B supplements may restore nutritional deficits, reduce oxidative stress and modulate neurological pathways that exacerbate symptoms of psychiatric illness.
Vitamin B12 is easily obtained from animal proteins such as meat, fish, milk and cheese, but advancing age may diminish your ability to absorb the vitamin from food. Specific foods that can add B12 to your diet include beef and beef liver, lamb, snapper, venison, salmon, shrimp, scallops, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Nutritional yeast is also high in B12, and is highly recommended for vegetarians and vegans. One note: If you take a B-vitamin supplement, make sure it contains natural folate rather than synthetic folic acid.
Absorption also depends on adequate stomach acid, pepsin and gastric intrinsic factor. For example, insufficient amounts of acid may be present if you use acid blockers for heartburn — that’s why individuals who regularly use a proton pump inhibitor may also develop a B12 deficiency.
Additionally, individuals who suffer other stomach or small intestine disorders, such as celiac or Crohn’s disease, may be unable to absorb vitamin B12 from their food. And, those who practice strict vegetarianism or are vegans are at greater risk than those who are lacto-ovo vegetarians, as natural food sources are limited to animal-based foods.
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