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Why do I have low vitamin B12?

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Vitamin B12 is one of the most important for the body’s optimal functioning. Its main functions include its intervention in the elaboration of DNA, regulating the functioning of the central nervous system, and the production of red blood cells, blood cells that are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. We obtain vitamin B12 mainly through food; the body receives it, uses it, and subsequently eliminates its excess through urine.

B12 deficiency in the body is very dangerous and can cause very unpleasant symptoms. This disorder is diagnosed when the B12 values ​​in the blood are less than 200 picograms per milliliter (pg/ml), a result that must be analyzed by a doctor. Fortunately, the deficiency of this vitamin can be easily treated through the intake of food and supplements. Learn in this FastlyHealarticle why you have low vitamin B12.

Symptoms of low vitamin B12

When your body has a deficiency of vitamin B12, it makes you notice; these are the main symptoms that appear:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Weakness and dizziness when exerting any effort.
  • Difficult to focus.
  • Pale skin.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Swollen and bleeding gums.
  • Redness of the tongue.

When vitamin B12 deficiency wreaks havoc on the central nervous system, a person can experience:

  • Mental confusion.
  • Loss of balance
  • Depression.
  • Tingling and numbness of the extremities.
  • In more severe cases, dementia can occur.

How is vitamin B12 absorbed?

For the body to properly absorb this nutrient, two fundamental steps occur. First, the hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein, where the substance that comes from food is stored. The vitamin is then combined with another protein (intrinsic factor) that is produced by the stomach and helps it to be adequately absorbed.

In general, vitamin B12 deficiency results from low consumption of foods that contain this nutrient. However, when there is a disorder that interferes with the absorption of B12 in the body, the levels of the vitamin in the blood can also decrease.

Why do I have low vitamin B12?

Among the leading causes of vitamin B12 deficiency in the body, we find:

Pernicious anemia

This type of anemia occurs when the intestines cannot properly absorb vitamin B12, causing low levels of red blood cells. In general, people with this pathology have a problem producing intrinsic factors, the protein responsible for the absorption of B12 in the body.

Weakening of the stomach lining

This disorder is also known as trophic gastritis. When there is damage to the stomach lining due to the action of gastric juices, the production of intrinsic factor, the protein that combines with vitamin B12 to facilitate its absorption, can be affected.

Autoimmune disease

It occurs when a failure in the immune system causes the stomach cells that produce intrinsic factors to be attacked by mistake. This condition can also attack protein directly because it mistakenly considers it a threat to the body. An autoimmune disease can also be the cause of pernicious anemia.

Stomach surgeries

People who have reduced their stomachs to lose weight or had part of this organ removed are often deficient in vitamin B12.

Bacterial proliferation

Some conditions can interfere with food movement through the intestines, multiplying intestinal bacteria and taking over vitamin B12. Some pathologies responsible for this process are diabetesdiverticulitis, and stricture.

Malnutrition or poor diet

Vegetarians, because of their low protein intake, are more likely to be deficient in vitamin B12. Also, those who have undergone a gastric sleeve to lose weight and considerably reduced the size of their food portions may experience a nutritional deficit that affects the values ​​of this vitamin. This also occurs in bulimic or anorexic people.

Other causes

Apart from those already mentioned, many factors may be interfering with the absorption of vitamin B12:

  • Age can be one of these factors; people over 50 are more likely to have a deficiency of this vitamin due to a decrease in gastric acids.
  • Medicines to treat heartburn, gout, and epilepsy.
  • Smoking makes it difficult to absorb B12.
  • The excessive consumption of laxatives decreases the levels of this vitamin.
  • During pregnancy, it is necessary to take vitamin B12 supplements.
  • Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.

Treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 can be stored in the liver for up to 5 years. Therefore, a diet rich in this nutrient should be more than enough to balance the deficiency in the blood. However, it is necessary to see a doctor discover the origin of this disorder since it is required to treat the leading cause to stop the loss of B12.

In the case of people who do not produce intrinsic factors and therefore cannot absorb the vitamin, it is necessary to give regular injections. If the deficit is severe, it is likely that in the first placement, several doses will be injected to see the results in 72 hours. This treatment is standard in people who suffer from pernicious anemia, who must also provide the body with iron-rich foods to increase the production of red blood cells.

In the case of those who have problems with B12 derived from an accumulation of bacteria in the intestines, treatment consists of antibiotics that will stop the growth of bacteria and eliminate them from the body. When the deficiency is a consequence of a poor diet or nutrition, increasing the consumption of foods rich in vitamin B12 will be the best solution.

In the following article, you will find a detailed explanation of the causes and treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency.

Foods rich in vitamin B12

Food is the primary way by which we offer our body the necessary levels of vitamin B12. Some foods are more prosperous than others; therefore, in a good diet aimed at increasing vitamin B12 values, ​​there must be:

  • Dairy, mainly cow’s milk, ricotta cheese, or yogurt.
  • Proteins, such as those provided by meat, although this should be chicken, turkey, or lean cuts of beef. Fish and crustaceans such as tuna, salmon, clams, shrimp, and, finally, the food that should not be lacking in a diet that seeks to increase vitamin B12 are eggs.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why do I have low vitamin B12 , we recommend that you enter our Wellbeing category .

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