Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Important for cell metabolism, vitamin B12, chemically known as cyanocobalamin, provides several indirect health benefits like healthy skin and an efficient immune system. However, a deficiency in it can create a serious condition that may only be reversible in certain situations. We'll take a look at the symptoms and illnesses of vitamin B12 deficiency in this article and how they are treated, as well as some dangerous interactions with other supplements.

So who exactly is deficient in B12 anyway? Generally, older people's bodies produce less of it, as well as people who are vegetarian. This vitamin is absorbed through a particular kind of stomach chemical called "intrinsic factor," and if you've taken any kind of medication or had any type of illness that causes long term stomach problems, you may also be lacking in B12. And if you are, you could end up with a serious illness.

That illness is called "pernicious anemia." It's a form of anemia that cannot be cured with the usual treatment of iron. It's directly caused by a severe lack of vitamin B12, and can only be remedied with a B12 supplement and/or injections. Symptoms of this anemia? General fatigue, weakness, sometimes a pale skin and shortness of breath.

Despite the seriousness of this, it can actually serve as a warning for greater problems down the road.

If vitamin B12 deficiency continues, nerve damage can result. These symptoms would manifest themselves generally as clumsy walking and/or tingling sensations in the hands and feet. This nerve damage can continue to progress, but because the prevously discussed anemia shows itself first, it acts as a warning sign that something should be done. But there is a caveat to this.

If folic acid (vitamin B9) supplements are being taken, the anemia may never appear as folate is one of the B vitamins as well. If the anemia does not appear, then nerve damage may begin without any other symptoms. So caution should be exercised if you are taking a vitamin B9 supplement. Which brings us to the core of the problem: how do you stave off vitamin B12 deficiency?

Take a B complex. It's that simple. There are eight different B vitamins, and they all work together in harmony (they were once all thought to be the same chemical). If you take a B complex, you will be getting all the B12 you need along with B9 and the rest.

So vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, which can then lead to nerve damage. And if you are old, vegetarian, or having chronic stomach issues, you may be lacking in B12 and need to see a doctor about this issue. However, if you are interested in taking B12, please consider a good B complex. Many supplements sold in the U.S. may not actually contain the proper B vitamins.