Both men and women are equally prone to deficiency of vitamin B12. In adults, there is an extensive reserves of this cobalamin form of vitamin, which can be used for three to five years. Hence, the symptoms of its deficiency become apparent after several months. However, in infants and children, the symptoms can be observed quite early.
Those who have low vitamin B12 in their body tend to develop a specific type of anemia called pernicious anemia that inhibits the secretion of glycoprotein from the gastric cells of stomach. The condition can be identified with symptoms like -
- Lethargic feelings
- Lack of appetite
- Digestive problems
- Weight loss
- Concentration problems
- Sleeping problems
- Emotional disturbances
- Mental fatigue
- Loss of memory
- Lack of balance
- Tingling sensation in hands, feet or tongue
- Absence of muscle-tendon reflexes
When a patient visits a doctor with symptoms, he conducts a blood test to check the levels of the vitamin. The treatment is then based upon the severity of the condition. Those who have developed pernicious anemia, B12 is administered through injections. Patients with a mild to moderate deficiency of the vitamin are given oral supplements. The main source of vitamin B12 in our body is animal proteins. Foodstuffs like shellfish, meat, eggs and dairy products have rich contents of vitamin B12. Therefore, doctors advise these patients to increase their intake of all such food that contain a high amount of B12. Normal functioning of the body can be restored only when vitamin B12 works with other essential vitamins. Therefore, a balanced diet is must to control the symptoms. The problem can be successfully treated with proper diet and supplements. However, if any damage has already occurred in the nerves due to the vitamin deficiency, then unfortunately, it cannot be cured with any treatment.
Usually, vitamin B12 is not found in vegetables. Even if it is found in some of them, it is almost in negligible amount. For this reason, vegans are more prone to its deficiency. Those infants who are breastfeeding from vegan mothers also tend to develop this problem. Therefore, these people should regularly take it as dietary supplements to prevent its deficiency.