Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common in elderly compared to young across the globe but vegans and vegetarians are more at risk of developing it. This is the reason at least 47% Indians have Vitamin B12 deficiency as they many of them either stay away from non-vegetarian food or consume it less frequently. An important micronutrient, Vitamin B12 can have a significant effect on various body functions. Since our body doesn’t naturally produce it, one must add its sources to the diet. Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products like dairy, meat and eggs. People who are vegetarians or vegans can have Vitamin B12-fortified foods or supplements to meet the required Vitamin B12 levels. This vitamin is stored in the liver for up to 5 years and if you are at risk of eventually becoming deficient if your diet doesn’t help maintain the levels. (See pics: Fatigue to brain fog; 5 sneaky signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency)
“The body is dependent on B12 for maintaining nerve cells and producing DNA – the body’s genetic material. B12 deficiency usually isn’t a matter of concern but can be a nightmare if not tackled at the right time. This is how you can know if you are deficient in vitamin B 12 by taking note of these symptoms,” says Dr Vikrant Shah, Consulting Physician, Intensivist, and Infectious Disease Specialist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital Chembur.
SIGNS OF VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY
Dr Shah also shares Vitamin B 12 deficiency signs to watch out for:
• Mood disturbances: Those deficient in Vitamin B12 tend to experience mood swings.
• Memory problems: If one is unable to recollect where he/she kept the keys or a wallet then it’s time to consult the doctor as it could be owing to low Vitamin B12 levels.
• Balance issues: Are you constantly having falls? Then it could be due to vitamin B 12 deficiency.
• Muscle weakness: This is also one of the signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency and shouldn’t be ignored.
• Depression: Do you avoid doing activities that you liked earlier? Are you having low self-esteem, feeling hopeless or helpless? Then it can be because of depression that can be linked to Vitamin B12 deficiency.
• Fatigue and night-time sweating: If you show such signs then you might be deficient in Vitamin B 12.
“Take B12 supplements as suggested by the doctor only and eat foods such as fish, eggs, spinach, milk, and dairy,” says Dr Shah.
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