Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Symptoms, Side Effects and Supplements
Vitamin B12 is essential for life. It helps the body to make red blood cells, nerve cells, and DNA. You can get vitamin B12 from food or a supplement. The best way to take a vitamin B12 supplements is with food.
The vitamin B12 in food is a combination of two substances, including cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin. In this article, we will discuss how to take a vitamin B12 supplement and the best way to get it from food.
Importance of Vitamin B12 in the human body
Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin for humans that plays a role in maintaining normal brain function, DNA synthesis, and nerve health. Deficiency can lead to serious problems, including anemia, neurological problems, and heart disease.
The best way to get your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12 is through food sources such as meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs.
However, some people(vegans) may need to take supplements because they don’t eat enough animal-based foods or they have dietary restrictions. More than two-thirds of Americans don’t get enough vitamin B12 from food alone.
How Much Vitamin B12 Do I Need?
According to the National Institutes of Health
The RDA for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms per day for adults ages 19 and up, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The RDA for pregnant women is 2.6 micrograms daily, and the RDA for breastfeeding women is 2.8 micrograms every day.
However, people with certain health conditions or who are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency may need to take more than the RDA.
For example, people who have gastrointestinal problems or who are vegans may need to take more than the RDA. Some infants also need to take more than the RDA because they don’t get enough vitamin B12 from breast milk.
Functions of Vitamin B12 in the body
Vitamin B12 is essential for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system, DNA synthesis, energy production, and red blood cell production. The vitamin is also important for maintaining a healthy weight and preventing age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The body requires two forms of vitamin B12: methylcobalamin (MBC) and adenosylcobalamin (ADA). MBC is derived from animal-based food sources, while ADA is found in plant-based sources. The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 is between 2.4 to 2.8 micrograms per day.
To ensure that you are getting the most out of your supplements, take them with food or drink. Additionally, be sure to read the labels on all vitamins and supplements because some may contain hidden additives that can diminish their effectiveness.
Common causes of Vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin and is found in animal-based foods such as meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, and eggs. It is also produced by gut bacteria. As a result, people who are vegan or vegetarian may experience B12 deficiency. The absorption and assimilation of vitamin B12 are dependent on the following factors: Proximal and distal gastrointestinal tract function.
More common causes of Vitamin B12 deficiency include:
Diet: A diet that is low in Vitamin B12, such as a vegetarian or vegan diet, can lead to a deficiency.
Absorption problems: Certain medical conditions, such as pernicious anemia or Crohn’s disease, can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb Vitamin B12 from food.
Medications: Some medications, such as proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers, and metformin, can decrease the absorption of Vitamin B12 from food.
Age: As we age, the ability to absorb Vitamin B12 from food decreases, making older adults more susceptible to deficiency.
Alcoholism: Excessive alcohol consumption can cause damage to the liver and the pancreas, both of which are involved in Vitamin B12 metabolism.
Surgery: Surgical procedures that remove or bypass parts of the digestive system, such as gastric bypass surgery, can lead to Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Infections: Certain infections, such as Helicobacter pylori, can interfere with the absorption of Vitamin B12 from food.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for the body. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause numerous symptoms, including fatigue, depression, anemia, and nerve damage. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time to speak with your doctor about taking supplements.
Fatigue and weakness: Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. A deficiency can lead to a decrease in the number of red blood cells, causing fatigue and weakness.
Lightheadedness and dizziness: A Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause low blood pressure and reduce the amount of oxygen in the brain, leading to lightheadedness and dizziness.
Pale skin: A lack of Vitamin B12 can cause anemia, which results in a decrease in the number of red blood cells. This can lead to pale skin.
Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet: Vitamin B12 is involved in the production of nerve cells and their protective covering. A deficiency can cause nerve damage, resulting in numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.
Muscle weakness: A Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause muscle weakness, especially in the legs.
Mood changes: Vitamin B12 is involved in the production of neurotransmitters, which regulate mood and emotions. A deficiency can cause mood changes, including depression, irritability, and confusion.
Difficulty remembering things: Vitamin B12 is involved in brain function. A deficiency can cause memory problems and difficulty concentrating.
Sore tongue and mouth: A Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause mouth and tongue sores, especially along the sides and bottom of the tongue.
How to take Vitamin B12 supplements
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for the growth and development of the brain and nervous system. It’s also important for energy production, DNA synthesis, and healthy blood circulation. People who don’t eat meat or dairy may not get enough vitamin B12 from their diet. Some people also take supplements to ensure they get the recommended amount of vitamin B12. Here are some tips on how to take vitamin B12 supplements:
- Talk to your doctor before taking a supplement because some are only safe for certain groups of people and some can interact with other medications you’re taking.
- Look for a supplement that contains cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12). This form is the most effective in helping you absorb the nutrients from the pill.
- Take the pill with a meal. It s best to take it at breakfast or lunch, because this will help ensure your body absorbs more of the vitamin.
- Sublingual tablets are placed under the tongue and dissolve, allowing for quick and easy absorption into the bloodstream.
- Vitamin B12 injections are typically given by a healthcare provider. They are often recommended for people with absorption problems or who need a rapid increase in their Vitamin B12 levels.
Note: Don t take too many pills at once.
The recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms per day. However, the specific amount of Vitamin B12 you need may vary based on your age, gender, and other factors. It’s important to consult with a doctor to determine the appropriate amount of Vitamin B12 for your individual needs.
When choosing a Vitamin B12 supplement, it’s important to consider your dietary restrictions, medication interactions, and any other health conditions you may have. Some Vitamin B12 supplements contain other ingredients that may not be suitable for everyone. It’s best to speak with a doctor or pharmacist to determine the best Vitamin B12 supplement for your needs.
Possible side effects of Vitamin B12 supplements
Vitamin B12 supplements are generally considered safe for most people when taken as directed. However, as with any supplement, there may be some side effects associated with taking Vitamin B12. Some of the possible side effects of Vitamin B12 supplements include:
Upset stomach: Some people may experience an upset stomach, including nausea and diarrhea, after taking Vitamin B12 supplements.
Allergic reactions: Rarely, some people may have an allergic reaction to Vitamin B12, including itching, hives, and difficulty breathing.
Interactions with medications: Vitamin B12 can interact with certain medications, such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and metformin. It’s important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking Vitamin B12 if you are taking any medications.
Overdose: Although unlikely, it is possible to overdose on Vitamin B12. Taking extremely high doses of Vitamin B12 can lead to symptoms such as tingling and numbness in the extremities, difficulty balancing, and confusion.
Vitamin B12 overdose is unlikely from food sources alone, but taking excessive amounts of Vitamin B12 supplements can lead to an overdose.
Precautions for people with certain medical conditions (e.g. pregnancy, kidney disease)
Some medical conditions may affect the use of Vitamin B12 supplements, so it’s important to take the following precautions:
Pregnancy: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their doctor before taking Vitamin B12 supplements. Vitamin B12 is considered safe during pregnancy, but it’s important to follow the recommended dosages.
Kidney disease: People with kidney disease may not be able to effectively process Vitamin B12, and large doses of the supplement may build up in the body and cause harmful effects. It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking Vitamin B12 supplements if you have kidney disease.
Autoimmune disorders: People with autoimmune disorders, such as pernicious anemia, may not be able to absorb Vitamin B12 from food or supplements. In these cases, injections may be recommended.
Stomach and intestinal conditions: People with stomach and intestinal conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, may have difficulty absorbing Vitamin B12 from food or supplements. In these cases, injections may be recommended.
Gastric bypass surgery: People who have had gastric bypass surgery may have difficulty absorbing Vitamin B12 from food or supplements. In these cases, supplements or injections may be recommended.
Alcoholism: People who abuse alcohol may have difficulty absorbing Vitamin B12 from food or supplements. In these cases, supplements or injections may be recommended.
It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking Vitamin B12 supplements if you have any of these medical conditions or if you are taking any medications. Your doctor can help you determine the best form and dosage of Vitamin B12 for your individual needs.
B12 vitamins are available in many regularities including tablets, capsules, shots, and sublingual tablets. If you already have a medical condition, be sure to consult your doctor before taking B12 supplements to help prevent complications. Possible side effects of Vitamin B12 supplements include upset stomach, allergic reactions, interactions with medications, overdose, and other effects.
People with certain medical conditions, such as pregnancy, kidney disease, autoimmune disorders, stomach and intestinal conditions, gastric bypass surgery, and alcoholism, may need to take extra precautions when taking Vitamin B12 supplements. Consult a doctor who can help you determine the best form and dosage of Vitamin B12 for your individual needs.