Vitamins are organic compounds that are important to your health which are found in many of the foods we eat, and even in our natural environment. For instance, we get vitamin C from our diet, but the best source of vitamin D is actually sunlight. They provide our bodies with nutrients we can’t naturally create, and not getting enough can be harmful to your health in different ways.
One important nutrient for the body is vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin), which helps with a variety of things like cell metabolism, red blood cell formation, and nerve function. Our bodies are normally able to store enough of the vitamin to last us for years, but between 5-15% of Americans do not get enough of it. This can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, which can cause a variety of problems for your body. Let’s find out how it can affect you and what we can do to help.
Patients in the Beverly Hills, California area looking for help managing this deficiency have Dr. Shawn Veiseh to help you get back on track. Dr. Veiseh offers comprehensive care for a variety of conditions and specializes in treating those lacking vitamin B12.
Understanding vitamin B12
B12 is a water-soluble (can be dissolved in water and travel through the bloodstream) vitamin that is essential for normal function of the brain and nervous system, forming red blood cells, and regulating DNA. It plays a part in the synthesis of fatty acids and energy production in your body, and releases that energy by helping you absorb folic acid.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that teens over 14 and adults take 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily (pregnant women should take 2.6 mcg and lactating women should take 2.8 mcg). It is a common nutrient in meats, fish, dairy, and nutritional yeast products, though some soy milks and breakfast cereals are fortified with B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency complications
If your body is unable to properly absorb B12, or you eat a diet that doesn’t include it (vegetarians and vegans are at risk without supplements) you may develop a deficiency. If you suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency, you can experience symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, pale or yellowish skin, irregular heartbeat, weight loss, muscle weakness, and mental confusion. Other complications include:
- Anemia (blood disorder)
- Neurological changes (numbness, tingling in the hands and feet)
- Nerve damage
- Brain damage
A B12 deficiency may also leave you at a higher risk of infections.
Treating this deficiency will depend on how severe your condition is. Mild cases may be managed with some dietary changes and over-the-counter B12 supplements which can be taken orally or as a nasal spray. Anemia or other more severe cases related to B12 deficiency are often treated with injections. These injections may start being done every other day but will eventually happen once a month, depending on how long you need them.
If you think you have a B12 deficiency, help is available. Make an appointment today with Dr. Veiseh to find out what treatment will help you best on your road to recovery.