Tuesday, March 22, 2016
20 Important Facts About Vitamin B12 Deficiency
The energy vitamin - Vitamin B12 is a powerhouse. It helps make DNA, nerve and blood cells, and is crucial for a healthy brain and immune system. Your metabolism wouldn't run smoothly without it.
Vegetarians and vegans are at risk - Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal products. So if your diet largely consists of plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, beans, and soy, you're at risk for deficiency.Adults over 50 are also at risk - As you age, the stomach produces less acid, and stomach acid is key for B12 absorption, says Middleberg. About one in 31 adults over 50 are deficient, estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Early symptoms include weakness and fatigue - B12 isn't nicknamed the energy vitamin for nothing. Inadequate B12 intake makes a dent in red blood cell production, and some of the earliest signs of a deficiency include feeling dragged, confused, and weak.
Heartburn drugs can cause it - Some prescription heartburn drugs suppress the production of stomach acid, which is needed to absorb vitamin B12.
It can be mistaken for dementia - "Symptoms of a deficiency often mimic those of dementia, such as memory loss, disorientation, and difficulty thinking and reasoning," says Middleberg. It can be hard distinguishing deficiency from dementia, especially since older folks are at risk for both.
The best sources are meat and fish - Beef liver and clams are tops in B12, according to the National Institutes of Health. If you're not a fan of either, plenty of good options abound. Beef, turkey, oysters, chicken, trout, and salmon are B12 superstars; a serving of each delivers close to or more than 100% of your RDA.
Fortified foods and supplements can help - Both can help vegans, vegetarians, and older adults and others who are unable to absorb naturally occurring B12, says Moon.
Heavy drinking increases your odds - More than a few drinks on average each day can cause gastritis, or irritation of the stomach lining, and this can lead to low stomach acid and reduced B12 absorption, says Middleberg.
It can trigger a false positive on a Pap test - Low B12 levels can change the way some cervical cells look, potentially triggering a false positive.
It's linked to pernicious anemia -There's a specific type of anemia that's triggered by a B12 deficiency.
It can be hard to recognize a deficiency - "Because the body can store B12 for three to five years, early symptoms of a deficiency usually appear gradually, so you're unlikely to notice them," says Middleberg.
It's linked to immune system issues -"B12 plays an important role in white blood cell production, and white blood cells are essential for proper immune system functioning," says Middleberg.