What is B12 Deficiency? How Is It Treated?
Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for vital functions, which are of great importance for human health. The presence of certain vitamins in the body is essential for the cells in the body to renew themselves, grow and develop, and produce energy. Vitamins that cannot be synthesized in the human body or that are not sufficient even if synthesized can be taken from the outside with food or vitamin supplements. Vitamins are divided into two groups: water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. Each vitamin group is very important for human life and health. Among the water-soluble vitamins, one of the most important and most striking vitamin groups is the B vitamin group. The Vitamin B group consists of eight B vitamins in total. These vitamins are:
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folic acid)
- B12 (cobalamin)
In our article, we will try to answer the most frequently asked questions about vitamin B12, one of the B vitamins, which has a very important place for human health.
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12, one of the water-soluble vitamins, is one of the types of vitamins that can be stored in our body, albeit in small amounts. Vitamin B12 can be stored up to 4 grams in total, 2 mg in the liver of a healthy person and 2 grams in other parts of the body. Due to its less storage amount compared to other vitamins, it is recommended to take vitamin B12 regularly every day in order to meet the daily needs of the body. Especially animal foods are among the sources rich in B12.
Benefits of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, one of the vitamins we need to have a healthy body, has many known benefits for human health. Some of these benefits can be listed as follows;
- Vitamin B12 ensures that the brain and nervous system can maintain their normal functions in a healthy way.
- It is one of the most important vitamins in the formation of red blood cells. Our body produces millions of red blood cells every minute. If vitamin B12 is insufficient, the production of red blood cells also decreases. This can cause anemia.
- It contributes to the creation and regulation of DNA.
- The metabolism of almost all cells in our body depends on vitamin B12, which produces energy by synthesizing fatty acids.
- The presence of sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 in the body strengthens memory and supports learning.
In addition to all these benefits, vitamin B12 is one of the other known benefits of preventing nerve damage, increasing fertility and helping the body cell to renew itself.
What is Vitamin B12 Found in?
The amount of B12 in the blood of a healthy person is about 150 ml. If this amount falls below 80 ml, this situation is considered as vitamin B12 deficiency. In order not to be exposed to the negative effects caused by vitamin B12 deficiency, it is recommended to take 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 daily with natural foods containing vitamin B12 or with vitamin supplements. The foods richest in B12 are foods of animal origin. Foods of animal origin containing rich vitamin B12 are as follows;
- Red meat,
- Chicken meat,
- Fish meat,
- Liver offal,
- Kidney offal,
- Shellfish such as mussels, oysters, shrimp,
- Milk and milk products,
The foods with the richest vitamin B12 content are foods of animal origin. However, you can also consume some breakfast cereals enriched with vitamin B12 to meet the daily need for vitamin B12.
What is Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
The condition that occurs when the amount of vitamin B12 that should be in the body is much less than it should be, is called vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency, which is very important for human health, can cause irreversible health problems, especially neurologically. In addition, this situation can cause permanent damage to the nervous system. A healthy human body can store enough vitamin B12 to meet the body's needs for four years. Excess vitamin B12, which is stored in the body for 4 years, is not harmful to human health. Excess vitamin B12 is excreted from the body through the urine.
Why Is Vitamin B12 So Important?
Vitamin B12 deficiency in a person can cause very serious health problems as a result of not being recognized and treated until it reaches serious dimensions. Therefore, it is very important to detect vitamin B12 deficiency as early as possible and to apply the necessary treatment. If we give an example of some of the results caused by vitamin B12 deficiency;
- The heart starts to work faster to compensate for the vitamin B12 deficiency experienced, and the heart rate increases accordingly. If this situation continues for a long time, the heart loses its ability to contract strongly. Heart failure may occur.
- B12 is one of the most important vitamins for the healthy functioning of the brain. Neurological changes can be seen in the patient with vitamin B12 deficiency. The patient may experience memory loss, vision problems, loss of coordination in movements and tingling. These diseases due to vitamin B12 deficiency are generally irreversible.
- Vitamin B12, which is known to provide and increase fertility, can cause temporary infertility in case of deficiency. This is a condition that improves when the vitamin B12 deficiency is corrected.
It is known that there are many other diseases that develop due to vitamin B12 deficiency. Therefore, vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most important diseases due to the consequences it causes.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Since vitamin B12 has many functions necessary for a healthy body, symptoms that develop due to its deficiency can be seen in different parts of the body. In addition, symptoms may not manifest themselves until vitamin B12 deficiency reaches serious stages. Some of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Anorexia and weight loss
- Painful, reddened and swollen tongue
- Mood disorders (irritability, depression, etc.)
In addition to all these symptoms, decrease in cognitive activities such as memory, understanding or judgment, lack of attention and focusing problems are among the symptoms seen in vitamin B12 deficiency.
What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
It is known that there are many reasons that cause vitamin B12 deficiency. However, vegetarian diet and stomach reduction surgeries are at the forefront of these reasons. Vitamin B12 is only found in foods of animal origin. Therefore, those who follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. In gastric reduction surgery, it has been observed that the body's capacity to absorb and store B12 vitamins decreases.
How Can I Increase My Vitamin B12 Values?
The most effective way to increase vitamin B12 values is to consume foods of animal origin, which are a source of vitamin B12. In addition, you can increase your vitamin B12 values with vitamin supplements that have been increasingly used recently. However, if vitamin B12 deficiency is severe as a result of the tests, it is necessary to supplement with vitamin B12 injections and vitamin B12 pills.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Treatment Methods
There are different treatment methods in the treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency. In order to determine the appropriate treatment method, the condition causing the deficiency is determined first. While the treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency is applied, the treatment is carried out in the case of the deficiency. Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency is done orally or by injection. Oral treatment is generally preferred in terms of ease of use in children. Injection therapy, on the other hand, is the treatment method used in patients who have problems with B12 absorption due to diseases related to the stomach and intestines.
As a Koru Hospital team, we tried to answer the most frequently asked questions about vitamin B12 in our article. We hope it was a useful article. You can contact us to get more information about vitamin B12 deficiency or to get an appointment with our specialist doctors.