Diseases caused by a lack of vitamin B12

 

The b12 vitamin it’s a micronutrient essential for people’s health. Although, it is a vitamin that we can incorporate into the body through the consumption of food from Animal origin, such as different types of meat, eggs, fish, or dairy products.

In this sense, it should be noted that the body needs different vitamins and minerals daily to be able to function properly and avoid the appearance of diseases or various health conditions.

Thus, the body needs a specific dose of vitamin B12 per day to prevent deficiency of this micronutrient. Therefore, the National Institute of Health of the United States has developed a guide with the sufficient amount that our body requires on a daily basis, depending on age and sex:

Stage of life Recommended amount
Babies up to 6 months of age 0.4 mcg
Babies 7 to 12 months of age 0.5 mcg
Children 1 to 3 years of age 0.9 mcg
Children 4-8 years old 1.2 mcg
Children 9 to 13 years old 1.8 mcg
Adolescents 14 to 18 years of age 2.4 mcg
Adults 2.4 mcg
Pregnant women and adolescents 2.6 mcg
Breastfeeding women and adolescents 2.8 mcg

However, there are many people who are deficient in vitamin B12, something that can lead to serious health problems. And is that the lack of this micronutrient can be caused by different factors.

Lack of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency is caused when the body does not obtain enough of this micronutrient or is not able to absorb the necessary vitamin for the proper functioning of the different structures.

b12 vitamin
B12 vitamin

Mainly, the deficiency of this micronutrient can be due to eating habits. For example, people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet and do not consume meat, can develop a lack of vitamin B12 if there is poor planning.

In another order, the deficiency of this vitamin can also be due to poor absorption by the body. And it is that for the body to absorb this vitamin correctly, a complex process must be carried out.

As a first step, the hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein in which it is present in food. Subsequently, vitamin B12 is combined with a protein produced by the stomach called ‘intrinsic factor’ that helps the vitamin to be absorbed.

Some people find it difficult to produce intrinsic factor and therefore it is reflected in poor absorption of vitamin B12 from food or vitamin supplements. This is something that happens regularly in people with pernicious anemia.

Diseases related to lack of vitamin B12

The lack of vitamin B12 is directly reflected in various symptoms such as tiredness, weakness, loss of appetite or constipation. If these conditions persist over time, it is advisable to see a medical specialist.

vitamin B12 anemia
Megaloblastic anemia

On the other hand, the deficiency of this vitamin can manifest itself in neurological problems, loss of balance, confusion, dementia, poor memory. And it can also cause damage to the nervous system.

However, the main problem with a lack of vitamin B12 in the body is that it can cause a type of anemia called ‘megaloblastic’. This type of anemia is characterized by the production of large and unhealthy red blood cells.

Mainly, the appearance of megaloblastic anemia is caused by the malabsorption of vitamin B12 in the body. Thus, these are the most common symptoms of this disease:

  • Pale skin
  • Tiredness.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Sensitive tongue.
  • Weakness.
  • Sickness.
  • Arrhythmias
  • Mental confusion.
  • Respiratory problems.

One of the main treatments for megaloblastic anemia is to increase the intake of vitamin B12 in the body. Even in extreme situations, this vitamin can be supplied by injection.

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