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Sep 24, 2021 1:52:52 PM | 5 Min Read

Vitamin B12 Deficiencies: What You Need to Know

Posted By Vista Springs
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Vitamin B12 Deficiencies: What You Need to Know

Eating a healthy diet is essential for getting the proper nutrients. However, especially as we age, we may become deficient in certain vitamins. While it’s common to have an iron or vitamin D deficiency, you may also not be getting enough vitamin B12. As a top nutrient supporting bone and immune system health, getting the right levels of vitamin B12 is very important. If not, this issue can lead to several health complications.

Let’s talk about the importance of vitamin B12, the signs of deficiency, and some easy ways to get more of this key nutrient.

Why Vitamin B12 Is Vital

Not getting enough B12 is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in seniors. Stored in the liver, vitamin B12 helps our cognitive abilities, bone health, and much more. While some symptoms may indicate low B12 levels, the best way to check is through a blood test.

In our bodies, vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is essential for producing red blood cells and maintaining the functioning of nerve cells. That said, a deficiency can lead to issues associated with these areas.

While this health concern can lead to a number of problems, a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause these common conditions:

  • Anemia
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Neuropathy

If not treated quickly and properly, these medical problems can lead to various health issues.

Lower B12 Absorption in Seniors

Vitamin deficiencies in seniors are common, and it typically has to do with how our bodies work. In the case of vitamin B12, we have a harder time absorbing this nutrient as we age. While this vitamin can be stored in our bodies for years, the lower absorption rate can lead to a deficiency over time. And even if you take a multivitamin with B12 or eat a diet that offers this nutrient, it still may not be enough.

Once we get older, our bodies have more trouble breaking down the vitamin. This is usually caused by issues with acids and stomach enzymes. Not sure if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency? Aside from taking a blood test, there are some other signs to keep in mind.

Signs of Deficiency

If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, it’s actually a form of anemia. Anemia is a condition where the blood doesn’t contain the right level of healthy red blood cells. While the symptoms can be minor at first, they can become more severe as the deficiency gets worse.

Here are some common symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • Walking problems
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Inflamed tongue
  • Tingling in hands and feet
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Mood changes

While these symptoms can be minor, they can also become much more serious and debilitating. Additionally, the majority of these symptoms can also be caused by other health problems, so don’t always assume you have a deficiency until you speak to your doctor. However, even specialists won’t know there’s a deficiency until a blood test is administered.

Be sure to speak with a physician and ask for a blood test if you suspect low vitamin B12 levels.

Getting More Vitamin B12

Luckily, getting more B12 and preventing a deficiency is usually pretty simple. In fact, it can be as easy as eating healthy meals every day. By making simple changes to your lifestyle, you can live with more energy and do what’s right for your health.

Here are the leading ways to boost your intake of vitamin B12:

Supplements

For a more direct way to boost vitamin B12 levels, many seniors take supplements. Be sure to speak with your doctor to determine the type of supplements you need. In more serious cases, you can also receive a highly concentrated shot of B12. As the stomach acid declines in our bodies over time, taking more vitamin B12 supplements is encouraged.

Foods

The foods you eat are the best way to receive vitamin B12. However, if you don’t eat meat or dairy products, having proper vitamin B12 levels can be challenging. In fact, animal products are the only reliable food source for B12.

Here at the most common foods rich in this vitamin:

  • Chicken breast
  • Rainbow trout
  • Ham
  • Beef liver
  • Cooked clams
  • Eggs
  • Fortified cereals
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Haddock
  • Salmon

If you believe you’re deficient in this key vitamin, experts recommend taking supplements and eating more foods packed with vitamin B12. Doing so can result in improved brain functioning and better overall health.

As fatigue, mood changes, and cognitive issues are associated with low B12 levels, talk to your doctor if you experience any of these issues. While finding the road to recovery may seem challenging, simply taking a new supplement may be the only solution you need.

If you suspect low vitamin B12 levels, schedule a blood test with your doctor today.

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Topics: Aging & Retirement, Health & Wellness

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