Vitamin B12 deficiency is getting more prominent in today’s world because of many dietary changes that are taking place in our community where more people are getting away from dairy products and consuming strict vegetarian foods. This condition is seen more in Indian vegans who do not consume meat/fish/eggs/dairy products like cheese which are the major source of vitamin B12 in many surveys conducted,” says Dr Anil Kumar Anand Kustagi, Senior Consultant.
He also opens up on symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency and the illnesses one can develop.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency
The symptoms are usually generalized weakness, shortness of breath, mouth ulcers, loose stools, pigmentation of fingers, forgetfulness, urinary irritation, getting frequently depressed, not being able to concentrate on work, and hair loss.
Many cardiac diseases like coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular diseases are seen when you are low on Vitamin B12 levels due to either non-absorption of these essential nutrients or not eating a diet rich in Vitamin B12.
Neurological disorders like weakness and decreased sensation of hands and feet, dementia, decreased taste, vision and urinary abnormalities are seen.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common causes of anaemia. Further tests need to be done to find the exact cause.
All pregnant women should get levels of Vitamin B12 checked as the deficiency can cause foetal anomalies.
Helminthic infections may also decrease the absorption of vitamin B12 due to hyperoxia and increased gastric motility from diarrhoea.
How can Vitamin B12 deficiency be detected?
The malabsorption of the vitamin is the major cause of deficiency than inadequate intake as most of it is re-absorbed in the intestine. Tests like bone marrow examination, gastro-endoscopy and further blood tests will help to detect the cause of Vitamin B12 deficiency,” says Dr Anil Kumar Anand Kusanagi.
Lifestyle changes to overcome Vitamin B12 deficiency
– Encouraging the intake of dairy products, particularly in vegetarians is important as it is the only source.
– Restriction of alcohol intake is advised.
– Getting Vitamin B12 levels checked in all vegans is recommended. If levels are low the individual has to be treated with medication in the form of injections and oral tablets.