Vitamin B12, a water-soluble vitamin, is crucial in human body for various functions. It plays a vital role in cell growth and reproduction, protein and tissue synthesis and blood formation. The human body does not produce it, so it has to be absorbed from foods and supplements. Although the human body requires small amount of vitamin B12 for its normal and adequate functioning. Mostly individuals above the age of 50 and those who consume vegetarian diet are deficient in this vitamin.
What Are The Functions of Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in DNA synthesis and production along with cell growth. It plays a crucial role in red cell formation in the bone marrow. Deficiency of vitamin B12 could lead to immature, large and abnormal red blood cells and may cause difficulty in their movement from bone marrow to the blood, thus leading to anemia. It is also important in the formation of myelin sheath around the nerves and also in the transmission of nerve impulses. It also helps in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. It is also necessary for the maintenance of normal gastrointestinal lining.
What Are The Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
The most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is strict vegetarian or vegan diet, as animal foods are the only natural source of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also be found in people with poor nutrition, infection, cancer, surgery, alcohol, medications (PPIs or other acid-suppressing drugs), exposure to nitrous oxide (during surgery or recreational use), stomach/intestinal problems such as intestinal dysbiosis, leaky gut or gut inflammation, atrophic gastritis or hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid) and/or nerve damage.
What Are The Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Vitamin B12 deficiency can affect nervous system, gastrointestinal system, cardiovascular system as well as bone health. The deficiency symptoms include weakness, numbness, tingling, dizziness, memory loss, depression, balance problems, confusion, dementia, fatigue, palpitations, tachycardia, shortness of breath, nausea, lack of appetite, diarrhea, constipation, soreness and redness in tongue with loss of papillae, difficulty walking, muscle weakness, irritability, and/or vision loss.
Can Lack Of Vitamin B12 Cause Weight Gain?
Does vitamin b12 deficiency cause weight gain? Natural vitamin B12 is found only in foods of animal origin, such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, and other dairy products. Therefore, it is usually deficient in strict vegetarians and vegans. There has been data that suggests deficient levels of vitamin B12 in obese and overweight individuals than in normal weight people. Although, it is not yet clear whether deficiency causes weight gain or deficiency is the result of increased weight. Since vitamin B12 deficiency is related to depression and fatigue, it has been suggested that it might lead to weight gain as well. This relies on the premise that fatigue leads to decreased physical activity leading to weight gain; in addition, to increased eating disorder, alcoholism and lack of exercise in depressed individuals. However, weight gain is common for senior citizens including men and women due to metabolic changes with normal aging. In general, people who don’t eat healthy and take vitamin-rich diet are prone to consuming processed, high-calorie foods that have been linked with overweight and obesity.
Other data suggests that vitamin B12 deficiency could lead to loss of appetite and thus weight loss. Therefore, the data is inconclusive whether vitamin B12 deficiency causes weight gain or weight loss and needs further validation through more research and studies.
What Is The Treatment For Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
The treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency is easy and simple; however, it should be conducted with proper guidance and vigilance of a health care professional. There are various form of supplements available for people who are deficient in vitamin B12 including capsules, sublingual, nasal preparations and/or injection form.
As vitamin B12 is found only in animal sources, strict vegetarians and vegans should prevent the deficiency by taking diet and foods fortified with vitamin B12 such as vecon veg stock, textured veg protein, soya milk, veg and sunflower margarines and breakfast cereals.
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