So, mentioning vitamin deficiencies may evoke images of Victorian era children with rickets, cartoon pirates with scurvy or malnourished people living in third world countries. Unfortunately, people in the U.K. suffer with similar problems in 2019, even if they live a perfectly normal and healthy lifestyle.
Vitamin B12 deficiencies are common among over 65’s and can be very harmful and damaging, especially considering that the symptoms can appear reasonably innocuous, which means it is picked up late. It is also common during pregnancy, just like iron and folic acid. Again, B12 deficiencies can be asymptomatic, which means it may not be picked up.
Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin for blood cell production and neurological health, which makes it essential for optimisation and dangerous if deficient.
Why does it happen?
There are three reasons for developing a vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Malnutrition is as simple as someone not eating foods that contain B12, which include well intentioned vegans and vegetarians. Because B12 isn’t made by the body naturally, we need to find various sources of it.
- Malabsorption from the stomach
- Malabsorption from the gastrointestinal tract.
The malabsorption could be due to many reasons, some could include the medication someone is taking. The medications include metformin (for diabetes), acid blockers or proton pump inhibitors both for acid reflux.
How can we help ourselves?
|0-6 months||0.4 mcg||0.4 mcg|
|7-12 months||0.5 mcg||0.5 mcg|
|1-3 years||0.9 mcg||0.9 mcg|
|4-8 years||1.2 mcg||1.2 mcg|
|9-13 years||1.8 mcg||1.8 mcg|
|14+ years||2.4 mcg||2.4 mcg||2.6 mcg||2.8 mcg|
Depending on the cause of the deficiency, the standardised advice is to eat foods that contain lots of vitamin B12. The listed foods are on the image next to the text and portray the dose per 100g. It’s also important to note the symptoms, but as mentioned earlier the symptoms may not be too obvious during the early stages of the deficiency.
As with most ailments, symptoms and investigations (eg. blood tests/MRI scans/Xrays) need to match, as the blood tests may not be fully accurate during the early stages as the test can count how much vitamin B12 is in the blood, not how much is used by the body.
If the symptoms and investigations match, then you will be referred for further testing to determine the type of medication you will require.
For any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask:
0161 209 2980
Ed Madeley M.Ost
- Commonly found in:
- People over 65 (5-15% of this population)
- People with gastrointestinal issues (previous surgery/Chron’s/Coeliac)
- Metformin, proton pump inhibitor and acid blocker medication users
- Pregnant women
- Common symptoms include:
- Vague neurological symptoms (pins and needles, weakness)
- Depression, dementia and other cognitive issues
- If left untreated it can lead to irreversable anemia and neurological problems