Vitamins play multiple roles to offer incredible vitality to the human body. Their requirement to the body is negligible compared to other nutrients, but the purposes they serve do weigh more than other elements. One of such vitamins is Cobalamins (Popularly known as vitamin B12) which is essential for the constructive chores of the body and plays significant functions in the development of the human brain. Some of the important ones are the development and functioning of the central nervous system, the formation of RBCs (Red Blood Cells), and the synthesis of DNA.

As it accomplishes vital body tasks, it becomes essential to monitor if its levels in the body are optimally maintained or not. The deficiency of Vitamin B12 in humans can lead to haywire in the body processes, inviting a variety of diseased conditions. This article will focus on diagnosing and treating vitamin B12 deficiency.

Signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency has unwanted health complications on the human body. However, knowing the symptoms and getting diagnosed at the initial stage can prevent worsening health complications. Given below are some of the signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.

  • Physical changes
    The most common and obvious sign of vitamin B12 deficiency is the skin turning pale with a yellow tinge. One could even experience the tongue becoming red and sore (a condition known as glossitis) accompanied by ulcers in the mouth. Loss of appetite and eventually weight loss are also a part of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Problem with the senses
    One could experience a tingling sensation in the feet and hands and constant weakness in the body’s muscles. Alteration in walking and making moves is also seen in vitamin B12 deficient individuals. Further, hearing sounds from inside the body (a condition known as tinnitus), disturbance in the vision, noticeable palpitations (heartbeats) have also been observed.
  • Mental changes
    A continuous feeling of lethargy is a general change that someone could experience in vitamin B12 deficiency that could be extended to depression, the deterioration of mental abilities leading to confusion, a decrease in the power of understanding, and making judgments. In some cases, vitamin B12 deficient individuals are even found to suffer from dementia.

Diagnostic Tests for assessing Vitamin B12 deficiency
Several pathological tests could support the signs and symptoms’ assumptions and make the diagnosis stronger for the vitamin B12 deficiency suspicion. They are as follow:

  • Hemogram
    Hemogram or CBC (Complete Blood Count) is a test that features a full blood picture, covering different blood indices such as RBCs, WBCs, hemoglobin, etc., along with the morphology of blood cells. This test could help detect the structural changes of the blood cells, if any, interpreting the existence of vitamin B12 deficiency. In addition, the general CBC test is beneficial for diagnosing megaloblastic anemia, a condition resulting from the deficiency of vitamin B12.
  • Serum vitamin B12
    Serum vitamin B12 is another blood test that detects the levels of circulating vitamin B12 itself. This is probably the direct and the most reliable test for detecting vitamin B12 deficiency. However, it becomes essential to check other pathologic parameters to suggest a precise treatment.
  • Serum folate
    Checking the serum folate levels is always better as sometimes the person is deficient in folate and not of vitamin B12 but could show the same symptoms. At the same time, it is valuable to call for a vitamin B12 test along with folate because the drugs for folate deficiency could mask the crises of vitamin B12 deficiency such as megaloblastic anemia but could potentially worsen the underlying neurological problems.
  • Methylmalonic acid
    Methylmalonic acid or MMA is a blood test to detect vitamin B12 deficiency. The elevated levels of MMA could suggest low levels of vitamin B12 in the body. Though it’s a less frequently used parameter, it could help monitor the course of treatment. Also, it could help differentiate between B12 and folate deficiencies, as the levels of MMA are normal when there is a folate deficiency in the body.
  • Schilling test
    This test is conducted on the urine sample and is used to measure the absorption levels of free radiolabeled vitamin B12 molecules. In a way, this test is only helpful for finding out the intrinsic factor (factors that help in the absorption of vitamin B12 by the gut) deficiency.

Health Complications due to Vitamin B12 deficiency
Inadequacy in the absorption of vitamin B12 is the most common cause of the deficiency of this vitamin. However, other reasons are also present that could be equally responsible for lessening the vitamin B12 levels. Vitamin B12 deficiency in the human body can lead to health complications like

  • Megaloblastic anemia
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Mental abnormalities such as paranoia (megaloblastic madness)
  • confusion

Alzheimer’s disease
Treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency
Encountering the deficiency of vitamin B12 is prevailing in many countries worldwide. Obviously, treatments or therapies are available to overcome this inadequacy and sustain a healthy life.

Have a look at the available solutions to knock off the vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • Food
    Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, and there are a variety of foods in which this vitamin is naturally present. Fish, dairy products, meat, and cereals are the consumables fortified with vitamin B12. Therefore, ingesting a vitamin B12 rich diet could help regain this vitamin for a longer run. However, if the deficiency is extreme, relying on natural means might not help ultimately.
  • Intramuscular means
    Most of the physicians advise taking intramuscular shots of vitamin B12. According to one study, from a standard 1 mg dose of vitamin B12 injected into the patient, about 10% is absorbed into the body. This implies that the intramuscular injections of vitamin B12 are helpful at quickly relieving the deficiency of vitamin B12, including the severe ones as well.
  • Supplements
    There are vitamin B12 supplements available in the dosage form of nasal sprays or oral pills. Also, one can opt for vitamin B12 fortified palatable food items. However, people must know that the supplements might not work well when the deficiency is extreme, i.e., advanced stage.

Irrespective of the signs and symptoms of any medical condition, it is always recommended to seek the healthcare provider’s advice before commencing with any medication or therapy.


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