You could be feeling more tired than usual for multiple reasons, and one of them is a deficiency is vitamin B12. If ignored, they could lead to serious conditions.
When you indulge in your everyday lunch meal at work or sit down with your family to relish a wonderful home-cooked meal, you often don’t realize that they are sources of essential vitamins and minerals. Food isn’t merely just to suffice hunger or satisfy your cravings. Everything you eat has its own effect on your body. But that’s not all. Your entire diet is meant to be expansive enough to give you all the necessary vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Each and every single vitamin and mineral has its own role to play in your body. And when all of them are well-balanced, you find yourself on top of your game.
The strangest part is that you might even be surviving on only veggies and still not getting your daily dose of necessary vitamins. One important vitamin that you must definitely pay attention to is vitamin B12. It’s a vitamin unlike any other that can only be found in products that are of animal origin. It’s extremely important to keep your metabolism in check, it helps make DNA, nerve and blood cells and it also looks out for your brain activity and immune system. Stephanie Middleberg, R.D., a nutritionist at Middleberg Nutrition says, "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," as Health.com reports.
It is suggested that a person over the age of 14 receives 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day, as per the Dietary Guidelines For Americans, 2015 – 2020. While this particular vitamin is important for everyone alike, the Office On Women's Health mentions that some of the women who need to pay extra attention to it are pregnant women, vegetarians and women who are 50 years or older. Many of the symptoms that are caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency can be reversed by a change in diet or even by taking supplements. However, these signs can also be symptoms for other ailments, so always seek medical help before taking supplements.
Here are some of the signs of vitamin B12 deficiency that you shouldn’t ignore:
We often push off feeling tired as just an effect of an exhausting day at work or extra responsibilities at home. But one of the most common symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency is feeling tired and weak. Feeling unusually tired could be because there isn’t enough vitamin B12 in your body to produce red blood cells. According to Helen West, a nutritionist and dietician, it is your red blood cells that are responsible for carrying oxygen to the corners of your body. And the lack of adequate oxygen pushes you to feel light-headed or fatigued. Aged people should watch out for the possibility of pernicious anemia in particular.
Because of the reduced level of B12 in your body, the lack of red blood cells may have other effects on your body. A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, and the lack of ample oxygen transported throughout your body can make you feel out of breath more often and even dizzy sometimes.
When there’s a drop in vitamin B12, it can start causing nerve problems in your body. This is when you start to notice a tingling feeling or sensation of pins and needles, and according to Helen West, it’s a signal of nerve damage. The pins and needles sensation is similar to the prickling feeling you sometimes feel in your hands or your feet. Vitamin B12 is crucial in the process of creating myelin in your body. This fatty substance takes on the role of protecting your nerves and simultaneously insulating them. And without enough vitamin B12 in your body, your nervous system will start to perform differently.
One of the earlier signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency is a smooth tongue, a burning or itching sensation in the mouth, and even ulcers. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can make your tongue feel inflamed. You may notice it taking on a more reddish color or find it swollen in size. The discomfort may make eating and speaking harder for you. Because your taste buds stretch out and disappear, it makes your tongue look smoother and might even cause some pain.
It is often found that people who experience mood swings have a deficiency of vitamin B12 in their body. When there is a dip in the level of vitamin B12 in your body, it leads to the increase of homocysteine which is known to harm your brain tissue. This affects the signals that are transmitted by your brain and also to your brain, making mood swings a more common thing for you. Links have also been found between vitamin B12 and more extreme cases like depression and dementia.
When a vitamin B12 deficiency works its way over time, you may notice that you are walking and moving differently now. This is a more serious symptom that is caused due to the damage caused to your nervous system. Moreover, it could also throw off your balance, making it harder for your body to deal with coordination. This could be a reason why people find themselves falling more often than usual. This is more commonly seen in people who cross the age of 60 and go on with an undiagnosed deficiency of vitamin B12 for long. If young people are facing similar issues, they may be facing an extreme case of deficiency.
One of the more gradual but also rare symptoms of a deficiency in B12 is experiencing blurred vision. When the vitamin B12 deficiency goes unnoticed or untreated, the damage caused to your nervous system may cause harm to your optic nerve. This stops your brain from receiving proper nervous signals from your eyes, jeopardizing your vision. However, it will not lead to permanent damage and the effect can be reversed by changing your diet or taking supplements of vitamin B12 if it is called for.
To ensure that you are getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet, stock up on dairy products, fish and meat. If you start your day off with a healthy breakfast of milk, yogurt and eggs along with your other breakfast items, you are starting your day off by giving your body this essential vitamin. If you are a fan of fish and other seafood, your options for good sources of vitamin B12 include crabs, clams, oysters and mussels. A healthy amount of chicken and beef can also give your body the vitamin B12 it needs. You can head over to Health.com to know how many micrograms are available in these ingredients and how you can make healthy recipes out of them.