Causes And Signs Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Did you know that despite being crucial, vitamin B12 cannot be synthesised by the body?

Cobalamin, another name for the water-soluble vitamin B12, is mostly present in animal products, including chicken, eggs, and meat. However, vitamin B12 in the body is crucial because it supports creating and maintaining nerve cells, RBCs, and DNA synthesis.

Indians tend to be deficient in vitamin B12 because most of them are vegetarians. Lack of B12 in vegetarian and vegan diets leads to deficiencies. On the other hand, foods that are not vegetarian include significant amounts of vitamin B12. The market also sells B12 supplements like tablets, injections, and meals containing this vitamin. The store is stocked with items that have been fortified with vitamin B12.

B12 Deficiency In Indians Is Common

A database of 11913 patients from an urban endocrine practice was searched for reports of vitamin B12 levels. In tier 3 cities, the prevalence of this deficiency—defined as levels of vitamin B12- 200 pg/ml—was 47.19%.

People with pre-diabetes had a prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency of 37.76%, those with endocrine medical conditions other than diabetes had a prevalence of 31.23%, and those with diabetes had a prevalence of 18.25%.

The population of north India has a 47% prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Causes

1. Anaemia (Pernicious)

Some people have pernicious anaemia from birth. The immune system in the abdomen attacks these anaemic cells, impairing vitamin B12 absorption. Pernicious anaemia symptoms include

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Tiredness

  • Weakness

  • Light skin

2. Age

To absorb B12, our body needs hydrochloric acid. Some patients develop atrophic gastritis as a result of their stomach producing insufficient amounts of this acid, which results in a B12 shortage.

But with atrophic gastritis, B12 is easily absorbed from fortified foods and supplements, so many medical professionals advise patients over 50 to eat B12-fortified foods.

3. Conditions Of The Organelles

The intestines are where B12 is absorbed. However, conditions including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and IBS stop B12 from absorbing into the intestines and lead to deficiency. Several signs include:

  • Dementia

  • Uncertainty in the mind

  • Megaloblastic anaemia is defined as having sufficient numbers of RBCs larger than normal.

4. Particular Drugs

The absorption of vitamin B12 may be hampered by several drugs prescribed for seizures, heartburn, diabetes, infections, and other conditions. For instance, giving people with diabetes Metformin to manage their blood sugar levels may result in a B12 shortage.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Warning Signs And Symptoms

1. Fatigue 

A vitamin B12 shortage can reduce the formation of RBC, which interferes with oxygen transport.

2. Yellow Skin Tone

Due to a B12 shortage, the body produces less RBC, which causes the skin to become light yellow.

3. Depression 

89 of the 132 children and teenagers in a 2020 study had depression, while 43 did not. It was shown that persons with depression had higher homocysteine levels and lower B12 levels than those without depression.

4. Migraines

According to a study, people who suffer from particular headaches may be more vulnerable to low B12 levels. Additionally, as headaches are the most typical sign of a B12 deficiency, low levels of B12 might worsen the migraine problem.

5. Difficulty Concentrating

Numerous studies have connected low B12 levels to declining mental health in the elderly. A B12 shortage impairs memory and cognition, decreasing concentration and making it challenging to focus on daily tasks.

6. Digestive Conditions

B12 deficiency can result in symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, gas, bloating, and vomiting. Additionally, since fewer RBCs result in a very low quantity of oxygen in the belly, a B12 shortage affects the GI tract. Diarrhoea and nausea may result from this.

7. Disturbance Of Vision

A lack of B12 may harm the optic nerve and obstruct the neurological signal that travels from the eyes to the brain, impairing vision.

8. Muscle Aches And A Weakness

Lack of B12 prevents the body from producing enough myelin, a protective coating for the muscle and makes it weak and prone to cramping.

9. Ataxia (Impaired Balance)

The person’s B12 deficiency makes it difficult to balance and walk. This is due to the harm it does to the area of the brain that regulates muscular coordination and all of its connections.

10. Other

Some people have also had erectile dysfunction due to vitamin B12 insufficiency. A needle-like sensation in the hands and feet is another common symptom to watch out for.

Vitamin B12 Sources

Some excellent sources of B12 include the following foods:

  • Poultry

  • Haddock with tuna fish

  • Milk, cheese, and other dairy products, including yoghurt

  • Eggs

  • Dietary yeast products

  • Enhanced milk products

  • Cereals enriched with B12

The Bottom Line

Due to the preference for vegetarian food, which provides insufficient B12 to the body, B12 deficiency is common in India. This deficiency can lead to various symptoms, including pale or yellow skin, fatigue, mental impairment, headaches, pain, depression, and tongue and mouth inflammation. As a result, be sure to pay attention to all deficiencies’ signs and symptoms and get advice from a healthcare provider before taking action.



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