Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur as a result of a number of factors like old age, antacids use, medications side-effects, vegetarian diet or some bacterial infection.
Why is vitamin B12 important for your overall health? Well this vitamin is essential for a number of bodily functions:
- Good digestion
- The function of the nervous system
- Red blood cells formation and regulation
- Proper functioning of the immune system
- Physical energy
- Focus, clarity and concentration
- Production of adrenal hormone
If you’re deficient in vitamin B12 you need to do something about it but how can you tell? Your body will send a plethora of warning signs and signals in such a case you just need to know how to recognize them. Once you learn the warning signs of vitamin B12 deficiency you can start working on increasing its levels by introducing more foods that abound in this important vitamin. But let’s see the first warning signs of this deficiency before we go into how to increase the levels.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency – First Warning Signs
If you’re deficient in this vitamin the first thing you’ll notice is feeling dizzy and lightheaded often. It will often happen when you get up abruptly, walk down a pair of stairs or walk up a pair of stairs. It may seem meaningless at the moment but these situations can be dangerous especially if they happen often so it’s best if you consult with your doctor and check your vitamin B12 levels and get proper treatment if you’re deficient.
- Forgetting things
Forgot where you put your keys again or why you walked in the supermarket? It doesn’t have to mean that you have dementia or some other mental illness you might just be deficient in B12. A simple blood test can show you if this is the case and you can get proper treatment and stop forgetting ordinary things.
- Muscle weakness
Muscle weakness can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency. If you’re sluggish and feel like the grocery bags are getting heavier and heavier it may be that your muscles are weak as a result o improper oxygenation and vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Uncharacteristically pale skin
The rosy cheeks that used to adorn your face are no longer your trademark and have now been substituted with pale, yellow glow? It can be that you’re deficient in vitamin B12 meaning a lack of erythrocytes which is substituted with more bilirubin and that’s the reason why your face turned from rose to yellow.
- Feeling tired all the time
You sleep at night, full 8 hours every night and you still feel tired when you get up in the morning? This is a tell-tale sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency. It happens as a result of lower erythrocyte number count which leads to your organs being deprived of the oxygen they so desperately need.
- Pins and Needles
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to paresthesia or as we know it pins and needles all over your body. You feel tingling, numbing sensation across your entire body but particularly in the feet and hands. This can be a result of a lack of vitamin B12.
- Vision changes
If you’ve been deficient in vitamin B12 for a longer period of time without doing anything about it you might experience eye problems.
It’s not so common but low levels of vitamin B12 in the body can lead to damage to theoptic nerve and eventually cause damaged central vision, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and similar eye problems. However, a supplementation in this vitamin will fix it rapidly.
Health Benefits of Vitamin B12
Here’s why this vitamin is so important:
- Protects your heart from diseases
Cardiovascular complications are the leading cause of death in the States so you need to do everything you can in order to protect yourself and your cardiovascular system. According to the latest research higher homocysteine levels present a risk factor for heart disease even higher than cholesterol. Homocysteine which is a non-protein amino acid can lead to inflammation if your body is deficient in vitamin B12.
- Protects your nervous system from damage
Our nerves are protected with a myelin sheath which is their natural covering that prevents toxin and free radical damage. If this covering is somehow damaged our nerves will become exposed to the negative influences and will soon become damaged. Vitamin B12 helps you preserve the myelin sheath covering and hence protects your nervous system from diseases.
- Boosts energy levels
Vitamin B12 boosts energy production and provides your cells with the energy they need to be healthy and well-functioning. If your body lacks this essential vitamin your cells will not get the energy they need and become weak and tired.
Your metabolism also needs vitamin B12 to create glucose your body can use from the carbs you ingest, something that’s an inevitable part of the energy production process. Hence, if you have low levels of vitamin B12 you’ll probably be tired and sluggish constantly.
- Promotes Digestion
Vitamin B12 promotes digestion by stimulating digestive enzymes production and food breakdown. It also eliminates harmful bacteria from the digestive tract and prevents digestive disorders and inflammations.
- Boosts erythrocytes production and prevents anemia
Vitamin B12 boosts erythrocytes production and can help you protect yourself from megaloblastic anemia, a disease accompanied by chronic fatigue and weakness.
- Strengthens your bones
Vitamin B12 is very beneficial for people suffering from osteoporosis and similar bone problems because these patients usually have higher homocysteine levels compared to people with healthy bones. As it was said earlier, this vitamin reduces the homocysteine levels so it’s highly recommended to people suffering from bone disorders.
How to increase your Vitamin B12 levels?
The best way to increase your vitamin B12 levels is through food. Here’s what you need to consume more if your deficient in vitamin B12:
- Chicken and Beef liver — 3 ounces contain 81mg. vitamin B12
- Salmon — 1 salmon filet (108gr.) containс 19.5 mg. B12
- Herring — 1 fillet (140gr) contains about 18.7 mg B12
- Mackerel — 3 ounces contain about 15.3 mg B12
- Sardines — 1 cup of sardines contain about 13.3 mg B12
- Tuna — 3 ounces of tuna contain about 9.3 mg. B12
- Trout — 1 trout fillet contains 9.1 mg B12
- Organic yogurt — 1 package of organic yogurt contains about 1.3 mg B12
- Turkey — 3 ounces of Turkey contain about 1.1 mg B12
- Raw milk — 1 cup equals 1 mg B12
- Beef tenderloin — 3 ounces contain about 0.9 mg B12
- Lamb — 3 ounces contain about 0.8 mg B12
Aside from the above mentioned foods, if you’re a vegan you can increase the intake of vitamin B12 by consuming more cereals and plant-based milks like coconut, soy and almond milk.
As you read above, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause numerous health problems which is why it’s crucial that you check your levels now and do something if you lack this essential vitamin.