Since the value of vitamin B12 started to come more and more under the spotlight with b12 shots and all, people have started to realize that they hardly take enough of it in their daily diets. What makes B12 tricky is that even when consumed in food, it is only absorbed in trace elements into the body. Also, the foods that contain a good quantity of it, mostly meat and eggs, have other effects on the body that are not desirable. In fact, vegans, if they don’t make a conscious effort to include it in their diets, may find it lacking completely and start to suffer deficiencies. A sublingual B12 supplement may be needed.
How does Vitamin B12 deficiency manifest?
- The most common is pernicious anaemia. B12 is responsible for formation of red blood cells in your body. When you don’t get enough of it, there will be a shortage of these cells, and therefore you will not have enough oxygen circulating in your body. It may first manifest as chronic fatigue whose cause you can’t trace. The fatigue will be accompanied by headaches. It will eventually bloom into full-blown anaemia and then you will be very weak and start to get fainting spells. Simple tasks will leave you out of breath. Your brain is experiencing this too, because it’s not getting enough oxygen to keep it perky and alert.
- Lack of adequate oxygenation of the brain tissue will start to manifest as depression. Many people may opt to see a doctor at this point, and with B12 intervention, they should be back on track. But if it is left untreated, then it develops into mania and eventually permanent depression could occur. It’s documented that centuries ago, a lot of the people who spent years in mental asylums lacked nothing more that vitamin B12.
- You will suffer unexplained weight loss because of lack of appetite. You may lose up to 50% or more of your weight and keep losing. The problem with this symptom is that it can be associated with a wide range of conditions and so by the time the doctor zeroes in on a B12 deficiency, you may have lost even more weight. What to look out for is the lack of appetite accompanied by symptoms of weakness or dizziness. Despite the drop in weight and the lack of appetite one will often feel full even though they have not eaten anything.
- Because of poor blood circulation, you will experience a tingling in your palms, fingers and feet. You may feel like it’s an itch, but when you scratch it, it may not go away.
- You may start to experience poor bladder control.
- You will start to walk around clumsily especially when the lighting is not so good – in the dark, you’ll feel completely blind.
- Eventually, impotence may occur. Your sexual appetite will be repressed and if you do at all get to perform, you tire out quickly and lose interest in the act.
- You will also experience whitening of hair, no matter how young. This should be telling, especially if you’re not suffering any stress or do not have a family gene that makes hair lighten early.
- You will often have tinnitus – unexplained ringing in your ears that can go on for hours.
- Your sense of smell and taste may not be so sharp any more – you will smell things much later than those around you, and they may smell different. Things will also seem to have a different taste from how you remembered them previously.
Vitamin B12 deficiency has many manifestations, and these are just some of them. Now that you know some of the symptoms, you should be able to nip it in the bud. The first to look out for is that unexplained fatigue, usually accompanied by headaches. Remember that gone unchecked, it can lead to full scale brain damage. There are vitamin B12 supplements available now, both ordinary pills, a B12 shot, and sublingual b12 pills. Go for the sublingual vitamin B12, they get absorbed much faster and you retain more. Alternatively, make it a part of your medical routine to get a B12 shot every few months.
- The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom
Parkdale, Dunham Road, Altrincham, Cheshire, England WA14 4QG
- An Essential Part of a Healthy Plant Based Diet : http://www.ivu.org/congress/2002/texts/b12pres.html
- Dietary Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12:http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminB12.asp