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Low serum levels of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) due to poor intestinal absorption, decreased dietary intake, or increased physiologic requirement

Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

The following features are indicative of B12 Deficiency:
  • depression
  • irritability
  • psychosis
  • abnormal sensations
  • changes in reflexes
  • poor muscle function
  • inflammation of the tongue
  • decreased taste
  • low red blood cells
  • reduced heart function
  • decreased fertility
  • poor growth in young children
  • poor development
  • difficulties with movement
  • weakness or tiredness
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • coldness in the hands and feet
  • pale skin
  • chest pain
  • intermittent claudication of the legs
  • symptoms of heart failure
  • palpitations
  • tinnitus
  • mania
  • ataxia
It is possible that B12 Deficiency shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of B12 Deficiency

The following are the most common causes of B12 Deficiency:
  • poor vitamin b12 absorption from the stomach or intestines
  • decreased intake and increased vitamin b12 requirements
  • pernicious anemia
  • surgical removal of the stomach
  • chronic inflammation of the pancreas
  • intestinal parasites

Other Causes of B12 Deficiency

The following are the less common causes of B12 Deficiency:
  • vegan diet
  • HIV/AIDS
  • elevated methylmalonic acid levels

Risk Factors for B12 Deficiency

The following factors may increase the likelihood of B12 Deficiency:
  • pernicious anemia
  • surgical removal of the stomach
  • being on vegan diet
  • HIV/AIDS
  • elevated methylmalonic acid levels
  • family history
  • being Africans and Asians native

Prevention of B12 Deficiency

Yes, it may be possible to prevent B12 Deficiency. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • vitamin B12 supplementation in pregnant vegan women

Occurrence of B12 Deficiency

Number of Cases

The following are the number of B12 Deficiency cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

B12 Deficiency can occur at any age.

Common Gender

B12 Deficiency can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of B12 Deficiency

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect B12 Deficiency:
  • Serum B12 levels test: To determine if serum B12 levels are low which confirms vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Serum homocysteine and methylmalonic acid levels test: To check if their levels are high which confirms vitamin B12 deficiency
  • The Schilling test: To test for vitamin B12 deficiency

Doctor for Diagnosis of B12 Deficiency

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of B12 Deficiency:
  • Neurologist
  • Pediatricians
  • Family doctors
  • Gynaecologists
  • Obstetricians
  • Internal medicine specialists
  • Hematologist
  • Gastroenterologist

Complications of B12 Deficiency if untreated

Yes, B12 Deficiency causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if B12 Deficiency is left untreated:
  • megaloblastic anemia
  • neurological defects
  • severe fatigue
  • pregnancy complications
  • heart problems
  • can be fatal

Self-care for B12 Deficiency

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of B12 Deficiency:
  • Eat a vitamin-rich diet: Take a diet that includes a number of vitamins and nutrients
  • Genetic counseling: Talk to a genetic counselor about the risks of anemia

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of B12 Deficiency

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of B12 Deficiency:
  • Dietary Changes and Supplements: Change your diet and take vitamin b12 supplements
  • Iron: Take iron from meats, vegetables or other foods

Time for Treatment of B12 Deficiency

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for B12 Deficiency to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 3 - 6 months

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for B12 Deficiency.
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