a doctor holding cubes of B & 12 (vitamin B12)

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The B vitamin B12 is very significant. Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin. When vitamin B12 levels are insufficient to meet the body's demands, a deficit or insufficiency can arise. Vitamin B12 can be stored in the body for up to four years, and any excess or undesired vitamin B12 can be excreted in the urine. 

It is found naturally in animal products such as meat and eggs, and it can also be manufactured by bacterial fermentation synthesis. 

Vitamin B12 Benefits 

Vitamin B12 is essential for a variety of body functions, including 

  • Formation of red blood cells and anaemia prevention, as well as assisting in the creation and regulation of DNA, may help to prevent congenital defects. 
  • Production of energy
  • Impaired DNA synthesis and the production of big, aberrant, immature red blood cells characterise megaloblastic anaemia. 

Consumption needs 

Teenagers and adults over the age of 14 should ingest 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 daily, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Excessive vitamin B12 consumption has not been found to be poisonous or detrimental. 


Some drugs can make it harder to absorb vitamin B12 from the diet. The following drugs are among them: 

  • H2 receptor agonists are commonly used to treat peptic ulcer disease. 
  • metformin
  • proton pump inhibitors 

Vitamin B12 Foods 

Unless it is supplemented, it is rarely found in plant diets. Vitamin B12 is there in different types of foods:

  • dairy products like yoghurt and milk
  • beef pork 
  • ham poultry 
  • lamb fish, notably haddock and tuna dairy 
  • eggs and several nutritious yeast products 
  • Vitamin B12 fruits

Despite the fact that vitamin B12 can be found in a range of meals, some people are more susceptible to B12 deficiency or insufficiency. The following groups are at a higher risk: People on restrictive diets, such as vegan diets, and people with particular health issues, such as celiac disease, are among the elderly. If one wants to read about the benefits of multivitamins, please go through this article.

Symptoms of deficiency

Having a low level of vitamin B12 can be a very serious thing. Having said that, even slightly lower-than-normal vitamin B12 levels can cause symptoms. These symptoms, however, are nonspecific and insufficient to indicate vitamin B12 insufficiency. Among the signs and symptoms are: 

  • depression 
  • confusion 
  • issues with memory 
  • fatigue 
  • headaches 
  • mood swings 
  • concentration problems 

Vitamin B12 deficiency in infants can cause a variety of symptoms. 

  • issues with food 
  • If left untreated, irritation can lead to growth problems. 
  • Depression 

Anaemia is due to low levels of vitamin B12. Anaemia patients may also experience the following symptoms: 

  • weight loss 
  • painful mouth or tongue 
  • diarrhoea 
  • menstruation troubles 
  • pale or yellowed skin 

Who is at risk?

  • Vegans are in danger of vitamin B12 insufficiency since they avoid animal-sourced foods. In vegans, a deficiency might be exacerbated by pregnancy and lactation. It is difficult to get enough vitamin B12 from plant sources alone unless a vegan diet is well planned. As a result, supplementing with B12 is recommended for persons who maintain a vegan diet. 
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in people with pernicious anaemia. Pernicious anaemia is a blood disorder caused by an autoimmune illness. Intrinsic factor (IF), a protein in the stomach that permits the body to absorb vitamin B12, is deficient in patients with this condition. 
  • People with small intestine disorders, such as those who have had their small intestine surgically shortened, are also at risk. Crohn's disease is a risk factor as well. Due to the frequent involvement of the terminal ileum.
  • Gastritis, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can limit nutrition absorption, which can lead to a nutrient shortage. People with persistent alcoholism may be deficient in vitamin B12 because their bodies do not absorb nutrients properly. 
  • People with diabetes who use metformin should have their B12 levels checked on a regular basis by a healthcare expert. This is because metformin inhibits vitamin B12 absorption. 
  • Oral vitamin B12 pills or vitamin B12 injections are used to treat vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Supplements 

Some people have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from food and may require supplementation. Some people, for example, may have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from their diet. 

  • adults in their later years 
  • people suffering from pernicious anaemia 
  • those who suffer from gastrointestinal problems
  • B12 supplements can be taken orally or as a nasal spray. Oral supplements, on the other hand, may not be effective in many cases of deficiency. Vitamin B12 injections may be recommended in certain cases by a doctor. 

Vegans and others who do not obtain enough B12 from their diet might avoid deficiency by taking supplements. This is especially crucial during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

B12 supplements are available in health food stores and on the internet. Supplements, on the other hand, are not FDA regulated, so individuals should be cautious when taking them and make sure they buy them from a reputable source. 

Injection 

For some people with pernicious anaemia or concerns with vitamin B12 malabsorption and severe deficiency, doctors may prescribe vitamin B12 injections. Vitamin B12 in the form of cyanocobalamin or hydroxocobalamin is used in these injections. 

These injections into a muscle are usually given every other day for two weeks, or until the individual's symptoms improve. Whether or not to continue treatment depends on whether or not the source of the deficit is related to diet or if the person has any associated neurological issues. 

Side effects 

Doctors do not believe that excessive doses of vitamin B12 are hazardous. Injections of hydroxocobalamin can cause a variety of adverse effects, including: 

  • At the injection site, you may experience pain, edema, or itching. 
  • headaches caused by nausea or vomiting 
  • hot flashes dizziness 
  • Serious negative effects are quite uncommon. 
  • People should contact their doctor right away if they have palpitations or signs of allergic shock after receiving an injection. 

Take Away 

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is primarily found in animal products. The average adult requires 2.4 mcg each day. Vitamin B12 is required for appropriate brain and neurological system function, as well as the creation of red blood cells and other vital processes. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause symptoms such as headaches, exhaustion, and digestive disorders, as well as nerve damage and cognitive issues. 

Deficits are more common in some people, such as the elderly and those who have trouble absorbing nutrients. Vegans may be at risk of insufficiency because their diet lacks various B12 sources. The majority of people who eat a well-balanced diet have adequate B12. Doctors may prescribe oral supplements or injections for others.