Dangers of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Dangers of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

November 6, 2019 3 By Bertrand Dibbert


Demystifying medicine presents: The
Dangers of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Vitamin b12 also known as cobalamin is
an important vitamin that is required for all individuals and getting the
right amount of B12 is a major driving factor in acquiring and maintaining
optimal health. Vitamin B12 helps make DNA and red blood cells. It is also required for proper neurological function and maintenance of
healthy nerve cells. Getting enough vitamin B12 may be a concern if you are
eating a plant-based diet. But do not worry, we’ll be showing you how easy it
is to get it. In this video we’ll be exploring what vitamin B12 does in the
body, how we can acquire through different sources, and what happens if
you don’t get enough B12 in your diet. So let’s take a look how it works in the
body. Once digested, vitamin B12 is absorbed by the small intestine through
intestinal cells. It is then transported through the blood to the tissues of the
body. Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver and
because a healthy human requires such a small amount per day the liver stores a
sufficient amount to cover the body’s daily need for several years. Vitamin B12
is very important to the human body because it is a coenzyme. In order to
understand what a coenzyme is we must first understand enzymes. Enzymes are
proteins that accelerate the rate at which chemical reactions occur in the
body. Some require coenzymes to properly
function. Therefore, a coenzyme is a small organic or inorganic helper molecule
that an enzyme requires for proper activity. Vitamin B12 acts as a coenzyme
to two enzymes in human cells. Methionine synthase and methylmalonyl Coenzyme A (CoA)
synthase. The first, methionine synthase is an enzyme that helps to create the
molecule methionine. Methionine is an amino acid important in producing and
protecting DNA and affecting proper gene expression. It also aids in the
production and preservation of myelin sheath around neurons. The myelin sheath
is a fatty white substance found surrounding neurons
or nerve cells acting as insulation for nerve signal and it is very essential
for proper nursing no transmission. The second enzyme, methylmalonyl CoA
synthase creates a molecule known as succinyl-CoA. This molecule plays an
important role in the production of energy for the body from fats and
proteins. It also aids in the production of hemoglobin, which is a protein that
transports oxygen in the blood. This means that vitamin B12 also aids in
the formation of red blood cells. Now that we understand vitamin B12’s role in
proper DNA functioning, the nervous system, energy production, and metabolism,
we will take a look at the dangers of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Early stage of vitamin B12 deficiency can include mild symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and a general sense of tiredness. If left untreated the deficiency can lead to
symptoms such as tingling, pins and needles sensation in the hands and feet,
muscle weakness, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. Late stage of vitamin
B12 deficiency symptoms include more serious nerve damage, neurological damage,
and digestive damage. Symptoms of nerve damage include increased tingling and
numbness in hands and feet, increased muscle weakness, loss of reflexes and
balance, and trouble walking. Neurological problems can include confusion, dementia,
depression, and memory loss. The digestive tract may also be affected causing
symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, heartburn, enlarged liver, and a smooth
thick and red tongue. Some people have an autoimmune disease called pernicious
anemia in which their body destroys the intrinsic factor which is a protein
necessary for absorption of B12. these individuals would experience these
late-stage symptoms. People with certain conditions such as inflammatory bowel
disease or celiac disease are more susceptible to B12 deficiency since
their conditions interfere with food absorption. So what can individuals with
vitamin B12 deficiency or who are susceptible to the deficiency do to
increase their intake? Well vitamin B12 is unique among all the vitamins in
that it is almost exclusively found in foods derived for animals. For those who eat
reasonable amount of animal derived foods are most likely to have adequate
intake including vegetarians who consume eggs and milk products. The
recommended daily intake of B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms and for
pregnant women it is 2.6 micrograms. Examples of good
food sources of B12 are: meat, fish, shellfish, cheese, eggs, and milk. Vegans who restrict their diet to exclude all animal derived foods must obtain B12
from either B12 fortified soy products or supplements. Examples of these
fortified food sources are: almond and coconut milk, some breakfast cereals,
nutritional yeast, and sea algae such as spirulina. It is important to note that
using the microwave to heat or cook foods with vitamin B12 inactivates the
vitamin. So to preserve the vitamin remember to use the oven or stovetop to
cook or heat meat and milk products. If you believe you are not getting enough
vitamin B12 in your diet, speak to your doctor about dietary supplements of
vitamin B12. These usually contain cyanocobalamin which is a crystalline form of
vitamin B12 that the body readily converts to active forms and then can
use. For those who are diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, there are 3 types
of treatments or management options that can be prescribed.
The first is intramuscular injections which, just like the flu shot, involves
inserting a needle into the muscle. This needle contains either a cyanocobalamin or hydroxocobalamin which is a natural form of cobalamin. This injection is
given every day or every other day for one to two weeks. After this a
maintenance dosage must be given every one to three months. The second treatment
is oral therapy which involves taking a tablet containing cyanocobalamin
every day for one to two weeks. A maintenance dose must then be taken
every day for life. This treatment has been shown to be safe, sufficient
and it’s effective as intramuscular injections even for those who have
pernicious anemia. Although both oral and injectable vitamin B12 are effective
means of replacement, injectable therapy leads to more rapid improvement and
should be considered in patients with a severe deficiency or severe neurological
symptoms. The last treatment is nasal therapy and his less studied than the
first two. Nasal therapy involves a gel formulation of hydroxocobalamin
or cyanocobalamin administered into the nose and it results in fast nasal
absorption which leads to maintained increase of vitamin B12 concentrations
in the body. After the diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency has been made and
a treatment plan has been initiated followup with the physician is important
to determine the patient’s response to therapy and to modify the treatment plan
according to the patient’s need. We hope that you have a better understanding of
vitamin B12 deficiency after watching this video. Always remember to speak to
your doctor about what is the best course of treatment for you before
taking any supplementation. Thank you for watching the Demystifying
Medicine video series.