The Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
The food we consume every day mostly consists of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. However, there are other essential organic and inorganic constituents, which are equally important for our health. Vitamins are one such organic component of food. Although we only need to include minute quantities of these in our everyday diet, they play a significant role in maintaining an individual’s growth and metabolism. Any person’s healthy appearance comes not only from energy-yielding proteins, carbohydrates, and fats but also from other components like vitamins, minerals, and water.
Sources of vitamins
- Vitamins are a protective food that is essential to ensure that the human body functions normally.
- Vitamins are crucial since they cannot be synthesized in the human body.
Therefore, whenever there is disequilibrium in its quantity, one needs to take supplements to ensure a balanced intake.
- Since plants can synthesize vitamins, animal foods like meat, fish, eggs, liver, and milk can be a good way to replenish a vitamin imbalance. When humans eat animals that feed on plants, vitamins are transferred to the human body.
- Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, cannot be found in foods of plant origin. Animal-based foods are an abundant source of this vitamin.
Vitamin B12 that is synthesized by the intestinal bacteria in humans is not enough to meet the daily requirements. In such cases, vitamin B12 supplements are a lifesaver.
Kinds of vitamins
- Vitamins are of two types, fat-soluble and water-soluble.
- The B complex groups of vitamins like thiamine, niacin, folic acid, riboflavin, cobalamin, riboflavin, and biotin are water-soluble.
- Hydroxycobalamin, chlorocobalamin, cyan cobalamin, and nitro cobalamin are few active forms of vitamin B12.
Functions of vitamin B12
- All vitamins which are a part of vitamin B-Complex act as coenzymes and vitamin B12 is no exception. Vitamin B12 acts as coenzymes in different chemical reactions in the body, in the form of cobamide, which is involved in the formation of DNA.
- Lack of vitamin B12 disrupts the functioning of folic acid.
- Vitamin B12 or cobalamin was formerly known as anti-pernicious anemia factor or Castle’s extrinsic factor.
- This vitamin is called cobalamin because it is a compound of cobalt. If an individual has a deficiency of cobalt, they need to take adequate vitamin B12 supplements to fulfill this deficiency.
- Vitamin B12 indirectly assists in protein synthesis and cell division required to form and renew blood cells in humans. Thus, this vitamin aids in the overgrowth of the individual.
Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency is known to produce different kinds of disorders.
- The pernicious, megaloblastic or macrocytic anemia is characterized by the rapid reduction of the patient’s red blood cell count. As a direct consequence of this, the hemoglobin content of the blood falls rapidly. Moreover, large, abnormal, immature, erythrocytes also known as megaloblasts or macrocytes can be detected in the blood reports. These erythrocytes contain a lower amount of hemoglobin than normal. If this disease is diagnosed in the early stages, then one can take vitamin B12 supplements to save the situation. However, in severe cases, vitamin B12 is injected intravenously or intramuscularly. It is can also be given through the mouth or the nose, depending on the condition of the patient and their ability to absorb vitamin B12. After the patient gets the injection or consumes these vitamin B12 supplements, a considerable rise in the red blood cell count is noticeable.
- Deficiency of vitamin B12 can result in different disorders of the nervous system. Demyelination or degeneration of nerve fibers, loss of sensation in different zones of the body, and even paralysis can set in due to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
- A neural disorder associated with pernicious anemia is a direct indication of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Moreover, if there is a dearth of Castle’s intrinsic factor in the gastric juice, then it will be difficult for a patient to absorb this vitamin, leading to a deficiency.
Applications of vitamin B12 supplements
- Cyanide poisoning can be treated with the injection of hydroxocobalamin, a form of vitamin B12.
- Age-related muscular degeneration can be effectively treated with vitamin B12 supplements as well as B-Complex vitamins.
- If a person is facing nerve impairment due to shingles, they can take vitamin B12 as it reduces the pain effectively and rapidly as compared to other injections. In this condition, a doctor may recommend an intradermal or subcutaneous injection of methylcobalamin six times a week for a month. These injections are more effective than oral medications. Moreover, there is empirical evidence regarding the autonomous effects of cobalamins in treating the pain caused by shingles.
- Cobalamins are also found to reduce the requirement of painkillers. The intake of vitamin B12 supplements can reduce pain more effectively than any pain relieving medication.