Vitamin B12 is responsible for the numerous functions within the body system. Some of the crucial functions include the formation of red blood cells, DNA, and vitality of the brain and nervous system. A low vitamin B12 exposes your life to numerous diseases, with some being irreversible in fatal conditions.
The human body does not generate B12. This means you have to find it in your diet. Similarly, the human body does not store it for long in the bloodstream. With a poor diet, you can easily find yourself with a deficiency of vitamin B12. So, you need to watch your diet keenly if you want to be healthy. Old age is also another factor for low B12 in the body.
What Is Considered A Low B12 Level?
Generally, different medical experts express concern over several parameters as the optimum right vitamin B12 level. But the most accepted B12 range levels are between 19 and 950 pg/mL. That is picograms per milliliter. Doctors raise the alarm if you record anything between 200 to 300 pg/mL. Medically, a count of 200pg/mL is low.
What Causes Low Vitamin B12 Levels?
Vitamin B12 deficiency is also known as cobalamin deficiency. The causes of low B12 are many. They differ from region and race. But the most common can be classified as follows.
1. Deficient Diet
Most vitamin B12 comes from meat and dairy products. Even so, you can still benefit from a supplement of grain with a high enrichment and fortification of B12. A poor diet increases your chance of cobalamin deficiency.
2. Stomach Conditions
People with atrophic gastritis suffer from the thinning of their stomach lining. Surgical procedures like gastrectomy can influence the deficiency of cobalamin in the body. With conditions like these, you end up with a low B12 absorption capacity.
3. Pernicious Anemia
This is a condition where your blood has fewer red blood cells. People who have it suffer from B12 deficiency. B12 travels throughout the body via the bloodstream. With less red blood cells, the body struggles with the intake of the vitamins into the system.
4. Intestinal Conditions
Some conditions, like Crohn’s disease, affect your small intestine. This damage hinders your body in the intake of essential vitamins and nutrients. With a long period of the same, you will suffer low levels of B12. Certain bacterial and parasitic diseases can also contribute to the body, not having enough B12.
5. Autoimmune Disorders
Having an autoimmune condition means that your body cannot properly regulate its cellular functions well. That includes the body cells that are responsible for nutritional intake during metabolism. This leaves your body with less absorption of B12 and other vital nutrients. Conditions like lupus, Alzheimer’s disease, vitiligo, and Graves’ disease are an example.
People with diabetes, heartburn, and indigestion have potent inhibitors. Indigestion drugs suppress the body’s ability to secrete stomach acids. So, your stomach suffers from an inability to breakdown food for the release of nutrients. Thus, it is good to consult your doctor if you are on other powerful drugs.
What Are The Signs and Symptoms Of Low vitamin B12?
Just like the low B12 causes, the signs and symptoms of low vitamin B12 are diverse. They depend directly on the type of cause that is responsible for it. Tingling hands and feet Poor mobility Pale skin Fatigue Faster heartbeat Difficulty in breathing Mouth ulcers Memory loss Mood irritability Nausea and vomiting Poor vision
Possible Side Effects Of Low B12
The lack of B12 leads to various adverse effects on your body. Categorically, there are two segments of low B12 side effects; neurological and psychiatric.
Neurological side effects include;
The crippling of the spinal cord and nerves. The brain also suffers damage due to the degeneration of the myelin sheath. This leads to sensory instability, intestinal complications, and poor muscle coordination.
Psychiatric effects are less conspicuous and include;
Cognitive disabilities mood, and behavioral changes In some extreme cases, doctors record dementia
How To Get B12 Naturally?
Various sources of food are rich in vitamin B12. The most common are meat, poultry, and dairy products. For the vegetarians and purely vegans, there are lots of substitutes for meat and dairy products. Here, you will find a list of food that all people can sample despite your preferences.
The essence of Cobalamin in your body is to boost your brain and immune functions. A low vitamin B12 count in your blood renders your brain to severe damage. Surprisingly, you can get this vitamin from many food sources. In most severe cases of deficiency, a medical jab is necessary to contain the retrogressive symptoms.
Doctor, author and fitness enthusiast, Ahmed Zayed, MD, is a surgery resident with a passion for helping people live a happy healthy life. He is the author of numerous health-related books and contributor to several medicine, health and wellbeing websites.