Long-term B-12 deficiency can cause permanent damage to the nervous system, and can become fatal, if not treated.
Having vitamin B-12 deficiency means that your body does not have enough circulating B-12 to make healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. This leads to anemia, making you feel sick, weak and tired.
Most people get more than enough B-12 from eating meat, eggs, milk, and cheese. Then, the vitamin is absorbed in the digestive system by the stomach and intestines. Vitamin B-12 deficiency usually happens when the digestive system is not able to absorb the vitamin. This happens when: You have pernicious anemia. The body destroys the cells in your stomach which absorbs the vitamin B-12.
You have had surgery to remove part of the stomach or the last part of your small intestine. This includes surgery to help overweight people lose weight.
You have problems digesting food, such as sprue or celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, bacterial growth in the small intestine, or a parasite.
This anemia can also happen if you don’t eat enough foods with B-12, but this is rare. People who eat a vegan diet and older adults who don’t eat a variety of foods may need to take a supplement to get enough B- 12.
For the recommended daily amount of vitamin B- 12 check with your doctor or nutritionist.
The amount of vitamin B-12 you need is generally related to your age.
The best food sources of Vitamin B-12 is found in organic, grass fed, and wild – meats, fish, milk products, poultry, and eggs. Some foods, like cereals, are fortified with vitamin B-12.
In supplements look for Methylcobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin. Check the label for how much B-12 is in the supplement.
Symptoms of mild B- 12 deficiency may go unnoticed, as some persons may attribute feeling not up to par as ‘just getting older.’
As the anemia progresses, symptoms may include: Feeling lightheaded, weak and tired. Appear pale, complain of diarrhea or constipation, exhibit bleeding gums with sore tongue, weight loss and feeling sick in the stomach.
As the deficiency continues to worsen look for numbness or tingling in toes and fingers, poor balance, depression and even dementia.
B-12 deficiency can easily be diagnosed with a simple blood test. If the B-12 is low, the folic acid, another B vitamin is usually low as well.
Vitamin B-12 supplements are available in sublingual tablets, pills, nasal spray and shots.
You can improve your health by eating a diet that includes good quality lean meats, fish, chicken breast, milk, cheese, and eggs, which are all good sources of vitamin B12. Also, eat plenty of foods that contain folic acid, another type of B vitamin. These include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and fortified breads and cereals. Remember, Health is a Choice!.
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