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Why Vitamin B12 Deficiency Is Bad for Your Health

By Madhusudhan Tammisetti

Vitamin B12, a water-soluble vitamin, is needed to produce a sufficient count of red blood cells. You can find Vitamin B12 only in animal foods, such as dairy products and meat, and yeast extracts. Since the body doesn't store B12 for a long time, you've got to take it in the form of animal food, yeast extracts, or B12 supplements. If you don't have a sufficient amount of B12 stored in the body, it can cause anemia, a below-normal red blood cell count.

Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Pernicious anemia is caused when the body produces a large amount of non-functional red blood cells. It is a disorder in which the immune cells attack the stomach lining, which produces gastric intrinsic factor. Vitamin B12 can't be absorbed efficiently without the intrinsic factor, which eventually leads to B12 deficiency. This disorder affects people above 60 years of age. People suffering from Vitamin B12 deficiency may have a family history of autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes, Addison's disease, Grave's disease, or vitiligo.

You can see Vitamin B12 deficiency in people who have gone through bariatric surgery. Gastric bypass and gastric binding are two kinds of bariatric surgery. In gastric bypass surgery, a small pouch is created from the stomach, and this newly created pouch is connected to the small intestine. Gastric binding is a restrictive technique in which it constricts the stomach and limits the food intake. Gastric bypass surgery can lead to insufficient absorption of nutrients such as Vitamin B12. The stomach produces the intrinsic factor that binds to Vitamin B12 to absorb Vitamin B12 in the small intestine. After gastric bypass surgery, only a small portion of the intrinsic factor is produced, which eventually leads to low absorption of Vitamin B12.

Symptoms

Over time, Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause peripheral nerve damage that may lead to movement problems. People may feel numbness in limbs and feet, making it difficult for them to walk without any support. Diminished reflexes and muscle weakness are some of the symptoms of B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to megaloblastic anemia that can make a person feel fatigued. Pale skin, shortness of breath, irritability, weight loss, fast heart rate, and decreased appetite are Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.

Prevention

If you don't have sufficient Vitamin B12 in the diet, you can fix it with B12-rich foods such as cheese, milk products, eggs, fish, meat, poultry, B12-fortified grains, and shellfish. If low absorption is the cause of B12 deficiency, you can take B12 supplements. Consult your doctor before taking supplements. If you're suffering from prolonged Vitamin B12 deficiency, it can cause health conditions such as infertility, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

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