The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences is the one who set the recommendations for vitamin B12 intake, which they provide in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). Two national surveys, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III-1998-94) and the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII 1994-96) have been conducted to find out how many children and adults in the United States are taking the recommended amount of vitamin B12 and are exhibiting vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms. The results show that most children and adults consume the recommended amount; however, vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms may still occur.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are manifest not because people are taking less vitamin B12 than recommended. Rather, the reason lies in the fact some individuals showing vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are unable to absorb vitamin B12 from food. Strict vegetarians are also at risk of displaying vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms since they do not consume any animal foods which are rich sources of the vitamin.
It is the constant observation of scientists and researchers alike that most people who develop vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are those who have an underlying stomach or intestinal disorder. These two conditions seem to limit the absorption of vitamin B12, leading to a deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is often released from foods and supplements through stomach acid secretion. If there is a problem with this bodily function, then it naturally results to lower rate of vitamin B12 absorption. Sometimes, the only symptom of these intestinal disorders is subtly reduced functioning of the cognitive part of the brain, resulting from early B12 deficiency. Anemia and dementia follow later.
The Character Signs, Symptoms, and Health Problems
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be detected by the following signs, symptoms, and health problems:
1. Incontinence/weak bladder
2. Chronic Fatigue
3. Weight Loss
4. Shortness of Breath
5. Tingling in Fingers and Toes
6. Forgetfulness and Confusion
7. Psychosis and Hallucinations
The neurological symptoms often happen after a prolonged vitamin B12 deficiency and can be confused with other disease such as Gullian-Barre Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). There are several tests that can be performed to diagnose a B12 deficiency and in turn rule out any other health problems. It is important to eat foods rich in B12 or to incorporate supplements of B12 into daily life to avoid health problems.
There may also be neurological changes associated with the deficiency, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
Additional vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are difficulty in maintaining balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue
For infants, the signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include failure to thrive, movement disorders, delayed development, and megaloblastic anemia.
A good number of these vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are general and, therefore, may only be results of a variety of medical conditions, not just vitamin B12 deficiency. Thus, it is important to have a doctor evaluate these symptoms first before jumping to conclusions. Appropriate medical care should be followed.
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