The medical profession has underestimated the role that vitamin B12 plays in our general wellbeing. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause symptoms such as tiredness, light-headedness, rapid heartbeat and breathing, memory impairment, irritability, mood swings, pale skin, sore tongue, easy bruising or bleeding, including bleeding gums, stomach upset and weight loss, diarrhoea or constipation.
The traditional test for Vitamin B12 is a blood test to determine blood levels, however a more recent and accurate test can determine the activity of Vitamin B12. These two tests in combination will give you the most accurate assessment of how your body is functioning with regards to Vitamin B12.
You might not absorb enough Vitamin B12 if you have the following:
- Atrophic gastritis, in which your stomach lining has thinned.
- Pernicious anemia, which makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamin B12.
- Surgery that removed part of your stomach or small intestine, including weight loss surgery.
- Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite.
- Heavy drinking.
- Immune system disorders, such as Graves' disease or lupus.
- Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs.
- You can also get vitamin B12 deficiency if you're a vegan.
If Vitamin B12 deficiency remains untreated, irreversible nerve damage can occur.
Vitamin B12 deficiency causes a condition known as pernicious anaemia. Pernicious anaemia is the result of the body’s inability to produce a specific protein that is vital for Vitamin B12 uptake from the small bowel or either the body’s immune reaction against the specific protein. See www.pernicious-anaemia-society.org (link opens in new window) for more information.
Vitamin B12 can be supplemented by eating meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products and eggs. You can take oral supplements. An intramuscular injection is a safe, effective and affordable way of treating Vitamin B12 deficiency. Choice of treatment depends on the cause for the deficiency.
For further advice and to arrange an appointment please call the Medical Clinic on 01243 771455.