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How to Know if You Have a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

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A deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause anemia, which can be a very serious problem. A lack of the right vitamins causes a body to produce fewer red blood cells. When the body is low on red blood cells, this can cause fatigue, lightheadedness, pale skin, bleeding gums, a sore and red tongue, stomach problems, and weight loss. If you notice these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, you should see a doctor.

Anemia from a B12 deficiency is most prevalent in people who have certain conditions that prevent them from absorbing B12. It is very uncommon that a person does not consume enough B12 because there is so much of it in meats, milk products, eggs, and other enriched foods. The causes of B12 deficiency anemia usually are pernicious anemia, part of the digestive tract being removed in a surgery, or other diseases that affect the way the body absorbs food. This anemia is not typically caused by a lack of intake of vitamin B12, but a lack of absorption. One of the causes, pernicious anemia, is an autoimmune disease that destroys the cells in the stomach which bond with B12 and allow for absorption.

In the case of pernicious anemia, the best ways to get sufficient B12 are to either have large doses of it or to get it into the bloodstream by bypassing the digestive system. There are nasal gels and injections that ensure that people with pernicious anemia can get enough B12.

Elderly people can be especially susceptible to B12 deficiencies because of lower absorption rates, a reduced intake of food, or a reduced variety of diet. Vegans and vegetarians are also more susceptible because B12 is only naturally found in animal products. Foods that have been enriched with B12, like certain breads and cereals, are other options for vegans and vegetarians.

Any form of vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated by taking B12 supplements. If the anemia is caused by dietary deficiencies, then a changing of diet should be enough or supplements could be taken. However, if the problem is absorption, then supplements will be the solution. Any dietary adjustments or supplements need to be followed for the rest of one’s life.

Anemia is not something to be taken lightly. If it is left alone, it will likely worsen. Because older people are more susceptible to anemia problems, the elderly especially should pay attention to any symptoms. If you think you or a loved one have anemia, check with a doctor for a diagnosis. If you suspect anemia, over the counter vitamins might be considered while you are waiting to get into the doctor. Extremely high B12 levels can be a problem, but supplements are usually safe to take even if you do not have low B12 levels.

A B12 deficiency is something that can be easy to fix, but it can cause major problems if it is left untreated, so it is best to pay attention to any symptoms and take action if you think you or a loved one has anemia.

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