A vitamin B12 deficiency could be more common than you think. Adults and children have a higher risk for this critical nutrient, so paying attention to your diet and the effects of age on your body’s vitamin needs is essential.
If you are experiencing several mild or severe symptoms or suspect changes in your energy levels and mood, talk to a doctor about what supplements would help maintain optimal levels of this vital mineral.
1. What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a type of vitamin necessary for many bodily processes. It provides energy, helps the body repair cells, and transports other nutrients throughout the body. Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy hair and skin and keeps nerve cells healthy. This vital nutrient can be found in fish, meat, dairy, beans, and fortified breakfast cereals. People with a history of food allergies may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement to prevent nerve damage or other complications.
2. What are the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency?
You may be at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency if you experience any of the following symptoms:
This is the most common symptom of a vitamin B12 deficiency. A person with this nutrient deficiency may feel exhausted all the time, no matter how much sleep they get or how busy they are. The fatigue isn’t caused by extreme physical activity and can’t be fixed by naps or extra hours in bed.
Soreness in the muscles
This symptom develops when a person’s body isn’t receiving enough oxygen and nutrients. It can also occur if a person is running low on vitamin B12.
Experiencing Nausea, Vomiting, Or Diarrhea
Since vitamin B12 is necessary for healthy nerve function, a person could experience tingling in the hands or feet. Additionally, some people may notice memory loss and confusion.
3. What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Several factors can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency. Age is one of the most significant factors, as many older adults have difficulty absorbing their required vitamin B12. This is because people become less efficient at absorbing nutrients as they age. The risk of this deficiency increases with age, and most adults who are deficient in vitamin B12 are over 50.
Another cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is poor digestion. Because this nutrient helps keep the body healthy and robust, it can become difficult for your body to absorb and use it if you have digestive problems. A stomach ulcer or illness from overgrowth in bacteria can also cause a vitamin B12 deficiency. A strict vegetarian diet is another cause of this deficiency.
People who do not eat meat are much more likely to experience vitamin B12 deficiencies because they lack the foods that naturally contain this nutrient, such as fish and meat. A specific type of pernicious anemia can also cause this deficiency. This occurs when the body’s stomach cells don’t produce enough stomach acid to digest foods that contain vitamin B12 properly.
4. How Can I Prevent Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Several vitamin B12 supplements can be used to prevent this deficiency. People who cannot absorb vitamin B12 may benefit from one of these supplements. Children and pregnant women are also at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency and should be taking this supplement.
People who regularly eat foods containing vitamin B12 may not require supplementation, as the nutrient is abundant in whole foods. However, it is still essential for people living a very active lifestyle to keep their body’s needs in check with adequate sports nutrition support and supplementation.