The deficiency disease caused by the lack of B12 is called Anemia. It is a condition in which the body starts making red blood cells that are larger in size than the normal ones and these cells are not able to carry the oxygen properly throughout the body. A regular intake of Vitamin B12 is required for the proper functioning of the body. Oxygen in the blood is carried around the body by the red blood cells and for proper production of red blood cells in the body, Vitamin B12 is required.
Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
There are several causes of vitamin B12 deficiency. Some of the reasons why a person may get a deficiency of B12 are mentioned below.
If the patient is suffering from Anemia, his body is not able to properly absorb the vitamin from his diet and, therefore, unable to use it to make red blood cells. It is often referred to as the intrinsic factor as well. The lining of the stomach makes a protein and that protein attaches itself to Vitamin B12 and helps in its absorption. When there is an absence of this protein, it automatically leads to a deficiency.
If the patient has atrophic gastritis, the lining of the stomach reduces in its width and, therefore, causes the deficiency of B12. This is also a direct effect of shortage or absence of intrinsic factor protein, as mentioned above.
Weight Loss Surgeries
Weight loss surgeries are often responsible for the deficiency of B12 as the parts of the stomach or the small intestine are removed from the system.
Improper Working of Small Intestine:
Any condition that can affect the normal working of the small intestine can cause the patient to develop a B12 deficiency. These conditions include celiac disease, parasites residing in the intestine, Crohn’s disease, etc.
Drinking a lot of alcoholic beverages is often directly responsible for this sort of deficiency.
Immunity System Disorders
Disorders in the immunity system can also lead to such sort of deficiencies.
Increased Intake of Drugs
Regular intakes of drugs that are used to reduce the acidity are also one of the causes of Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Overgrowth of Bacteria
In some cases, it has been observed that when there is any hindrance that causes the movement of food to slow down in the intestines, a lot of bacteria start growing there and start absorbing the vitamin instead of allowing it to absorb in the body. Therefore, it causes a deficiency. This happens in conditions such as diverticulitis, diabetes, etc.
People who strictly limit themselves to vegetarian diets can also develop such a deficiency. It is one of the major causes. Such a restricted diet means that it does not include any sort of meat or dairy products including eggs. Mothers who eat strictly vegan diets can give birth to babies that have a deficiency of Vitamin B12. Those who are vegetarian can start consuming enough eggs to compensate for it.
Effects and Symptoms of Anemia
B12 deficiency anemia is a disease. There are different types of anemia and this one is caused by the deficiency of B12.
A person having B12 deficiency anemia shows the following signs and symptoms.
- Dizziness and Weakness:
The person starts feeling weakness in the body, gets very tired and his head starts to feel light and dizzy.
- Palpitating Heartbeat:
The heart starts beating very fast and shortness in breathing.
- Pale Skin:
Skin starts getting pale as the body is not able to make the right sized red blood cells that are required for proper functioning.
- Sore Tongue and Throat:
Tongue and throat get sore and painful. Tongue develops a red appearance.
- Weight Loss:
A person starts losing weight and the functioning of the stomach is disturbed.
- Loss of Appetite:
A person starts to lose his appetite and starts eating less and less.
Treatment for Anemia and B12 Deficiency
The deficiency of Vitamin B12 can be treated with natural methods that involve changing your diet plans and incorporating foods that are rich in B12 or it can be treated alternatively using injections and supplements. The details about both these methods of treatment are mentioned below:
Natural Treatment of Anemia
Generally, people prefer natural treatments for all those medical problems for which there is an effective natural treatment. This is because of the fact that natural treatments are easier and they have very little side effects as compared to medical treatments in which a patient needs to take several doses of drugs that can have quite a number of harmful side effects as well.
If a person wants to treat Anemia problem using natural methods, he will need to eat a balanced and healthy diet that is rich in contents of vitamin B12. Given below is a list of foods that are rich in B12 contents.
1) Foods high in B12
Some of the food sources that contain high quantities of Vitamin B12 are mentioned below.
Shellfish, which are commonly referred to as cooked clams, contain high amounts of Vitamin B12. In each 100g of a shellfish, there is about 98.9ug of Vitamin B12. This is about 1648% of the daily requirement of Vitamin B12 for an adult person.
Liver food is high in the Vitamin B12 contents and each 100g serving of liver contains about 1386% of the daily requirements. Chicken Liver Pate can also be consumed for this purpose as it contains more than the daily required value of Vitamin B12.
Mackerel fish is among the foods that are high in the contents of Vitamin B12. In each 100g of Mackerel, there are about 19ug of Vitamin B12 which is about more than 300% of the daily required value. Hence, it can be used for stocking up your B12 requirements. Other fish such as Salmon, Tuna, and Trout are also high in B12 contents.
Crustacean from crab contains considerable amounts of Vitamin B12 in them. Each 100g of crustacean serving contains about 11.5ug of Vitamin B12 which is about more than 190% of the daily required value. Similarly, lobsters and shrimp also contain Vitamin B12 in them.
Fortified Soy Milk:
In each cup of fortified soy milk, there is as much Vitamin B12 as is required for sufficing 50% of the daily required values. Other soy products also contain good amounts of B12 and use naturally to treat Anemia.
Vitamin B12 is found in abundance in all-bran cereals. In about 100g of bran, there is more than 300% of the daily required value of B12 Vitamin.
Each 100g serving of beef will meet your 100% of the daily required values of Vitamin B12.
Skim milk and other dairy products contain Vitamin B12. In each serving of skim milk, you will get about 21% of the daily required value of your vitamin. Whole milk and yogurt also have this vitamin.
100g of Swiss cheese contains about 56% of the daily required value of B12 whereas Tilsit and Feta contain about 10% and 8% of it respectively.
Natural Vegetarian Sources of Vitamin B12
For those who are vegetarian or are planning to become one should keep a check on their vitamin B12 intake because it is found commonly in meat products and if you are not careful about it, you will end up with a disease of Anemia. As mentioned in the previous chapters, a slight deficiency can have a lot of undesired consequences and if it persists for a long time, it can have very bad effects on your health including severe brain damage. If you want to maintain a healthy diet while staying away from all meat products, you must incorporate the below mentioned natural sources of Vitamin B12 in your diet.
The contents of Vitamin B12 vary depending on the type of cheese. Swiss cheese is particularly abundant containing about 56% of the daily requirement of vitamin B12 in each 100 gram of its serving. Mozzarella can provide you about 39% of it in each 100g whereas Gjetost Cheese contains about 40% of the daily requirement of Vitamin B12.
In the yellow of the chicken egg, there are high quantities of vitamin B12 whereas the white contains only a small fraction. A single chicken egg is enough for about 40% of the daily required value out of which 33% lies in the yellow and the rest of 6-7% is in the white part. A goose egg contains more amount of vitamin B12 and provides you with about 122% of the daily required value.
Whey powder can be considered as a food supplement that can be taken for not only vitamin B12 but for other nutrients as well. It was used solely by the bodybuilders but in recent years, other people have also started using it to compensate for the amounts of nutrients in their body, especially those who are vegetarian. In each 100g of whey powder, there is about 42% of the daily required value of B12.
Milk and Yogurt
Dairy products are also a rich source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians. There is about 8% of the daily required value of B12 per cup of milk whereas, in yogurt, there is 15% per cup.
Yeast extracts contain about 8% of Vitamin B12 DV per 100g of serving. These extracts are primarily a source of protein for vegetarians, but they also have good amounts of B12 in them.