Vitamin B12 deficiency is a very common disease that not that many people worry about. This is quite dangerous because the lack of Vitamin B12 can lead to various health issues that could have easily been prevented. One particular study was conducted from the Tufts University Framingham Offspring Study and their particular data suggests that 40% of people between the ages of 26-83 have plasma B12 levels in the lower than normal range. 9% had a definite deficiency, and 16 % exhibited “near deficiency”. What was most shocking to the researchers was the fact that low levels of Vitamin B12 were as common in young people as they were also in the elderly.
WHAT IS VITAMIN B12?
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that is absorbed from certain foods. It helps keep the body’s nerves and cells healthy. B12 is also vital in the production of DNA, blood formation, production of energy and fatty acid synthesis.
The foods in which Vitamin B12 are mainly found are:
- Dairy products, etc.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF VITAMIN B12?
- Decrease fatigue and lethargy in the body through energy production by converting carbohydrates into glucose.
- Reduces depression, stress and brain shrinkage by regulating the nervous system and ensuring it stays healthy.
- It helps maintain a healthy digestive system.
- Protects against heart disease by improving unhealthy cholesterol levels thus avoiding future risks of strokes and high blood pressure.
- It is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails.
- It has shown promise against HIV in adults.
- Helps the elderly who find their minds aren’t as sharp as they used to be.
Older adults who notice a decline in mental function, even the emergence of Alzheimer’s disease, really need to begin Vitamin B12 supplementation as soon as possible. Experts have found that when mental symptoms are treated with vitamin B12 within six months of onset, many of the symptoms disappear or mental clarity improves.
HOW CAN YOU GET VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY?
There are various causes of B12 deficiency, however the two most common are in fact vegetarian diet and weight-loss surgery. The only foods that provide B12 are non-plant based which means that those whom which practise a vegetarian diet, will then have to either consume eggs and dairy products or have to then begin to take supplements to improve Vitamin B12 levels to avoid a deficiency.
RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS OF A VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be slow to develop, causing symptoms to appear gradually and intensify over time. It can also come on relatively quickly. Given the array of symptoms it can cause, the condition can be overlooked or confused with something else. Symptoms may include:
- strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet
- difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)
- a swollen, inflamed tongue
- yellowed skin (jaundice)
- difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss
- paranoia or hallucinations
While an experienced physician may be able to detect a vitamin B12 deficiency with a good interview and physical exam, a blood test is needed to confirm the condition.
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