Cobalamin, also known as Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a critical role in the
formation of DNA, Cell Division , cell cycle , cell function and the formation of blood cells. It is also
Important for the proper functioning of the nervous system.
Vitamin B12 is normally found in animal foods such as meats, fish, poultry, eggs etc. Therefore there is a high level of Vitamin B12 deficiency in Indians where most people are vegetarians
Some of the signs of Vitamin B 12 deficiency are
People with this deficiency look pale and have a yellowish appearance of the skin. This occurs due to anaemia – called the megaloblastic anaemia. Red blood cells are not properly made leading to this type of anaemia
Due to anaemia and the oxygen carrying capacity is decreased and hence the person always lacks energy and is fatigued
- Sensations of Pins and Needles
Vitamin B12, myelin iia important for the production of myelin, the layer of fat around the nerves . This is important for the proper functioning of the nervous system. This leads to paraesthesia, or the sensation of pins and needles in the hands and the feet.
4 .Incoordination and lack of balance
If untreated B 12 deficiency can cause lack of coordination during movement ordination, making one prone to falling.
- Ulcers in the mouth and soreness of the Tongue
People with Vitamin B12 deficiency also have soreness of the tongue, where the tongue becomes painful and also they may have multiple ulcers in the mouth
- Breathlessness and Giddiness
Due to low haemoglobin the patients with low B12 feel breathless and may have episodes of giddiness
- Disturbance of Vision
The lack of adequate amount of B12 can eventually lead to disturbances in the vision
Detection of Vitamin B 12 deficiency
Since Vitamin B12 is deficient in great number of Indians Vitamin B 12 estimation is extremely important.
Levels or Vitamin B 12 can be estimated in the laboratory and everyone should get these levels done as a part of preventive health check up
A serum vitamin B12 level less than 180 ng/L indicates deficiency and may lead to anaemia and neurological symptom s.
In patients with deficiency the cause of the deficiency needs to be investigated. These patients need to be treated according to the cause and may require supplements
Patients with serum B12 levels between 150 and 400 ng/L have borderline. These patient may not have significant symptoms and may present with vague symptoms such as weakness and giddiness.
When the Vitamin B 12 is low then the patients should be treated with supplements and the treatment should be monitored by doing regular Vitamin B12 estimations
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