Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 commonly known as Cobalamin is vital for the formation of red blood cells, as well as for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin. Lack of sufficient amount of vitamin B12 in the body cause vitamin B12 deficiency which results in anemia (pernicious anemia) and irreversible nerve and brain damage.

Causes of Vitamin B12
• Decreased dietary intake. Especially in vegans.
• Less absorption of vitamin B12
• Diabetes medications also interfere with less absorption of vitamin B12.

Symptoms of Vitamin B12
• Fatigue
• Headache
• Dizziness
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Constipation
• Diarrhea
• Confusion
• Irritability
• Menstrual cycle disturbance
• Weight loss
• Palpitation
• Heartburn
• Numbness and tingling of the fingers of hands/feet.
• Muscular weakness
• Chest pain
• Shortness of breath
• Pale skin

Investigations of Vitamin B12
• Blood test with red blood cell count
• RBC morphology
• Bone intrinsic factor antibody levels
• Bone marrow biopsy.

Complications of Vitamin B12
• Anemia (pernicious anemia) with extreme tiredness and lethargy.
• Heart and lungs system: adults with severe anemia are at risk of
       • Tachycardia
       • Heat failure
• Nervous system:
       • Vision problems
       • Memory loss
       • Ataxia (loss of physical coordination, affecting whole body causing difficulty speaking or walking).
       • Pricing and tingling feeling in the arms, legs, hands and feet (Paraesthesia)
• Sometimes vitamin B12 deficiency causes temporary sterility.
• Neural Tube defects:
       • Spina bifida (Spine does not develop properly).
       • Anencephaly( brain and skull bone do not develop properly)

Prognosis of Vitamin B12
Prognosis is well after proper and regular treatment, but if not treated one can develop nerve damage.

Management of Vitamin B12
• Vitamin B12 is found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and milk products.
• Fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy milks, and fortified energy bars.
• Vitamin B12 supplements.