Vitamin B12 is found in animal-derived foods such as meat, eggs and milk. This essential vitamin keeps nerves and red blood cells healthy. Deficiency can lead to nerve damage, anemia, tiredness, depression and numbness in the hands and feet. As we get older, we lose some of our ability to absorb B12 from food. It was observed that one in 200 elderly people lack the gastric secretions necessary to absorb B12 altogether. In addition, people with diabetes have a heightened risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency:
For the body to get enough vitamin B-12, three physiological processes should be undertaken –
1. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach releases vitamin B-12 from food.
2. Vitamin B-12 combines with a substance called “intrinsic factor.”
3. The intestines then absorb B-12.
Disruption at any step can lead to deficiency.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency, attched to some health conditions:
Foods containing the protein gluten can cause inflammation in the intestines so they cannot properly absorb some nutrients, including vitamin B-12. This is celiac disease which occurs in about one in 20 people with type 1 diabetes. Gluten is found in most breads, noodles, and many other grain foods.
In pernicious anemia, the immune system interferes with production of intrinsic factor, impairing absorption of vitamin B-12. Pernicious anemia occurs in perhaps 1 to 2 percent of people with type 1 diabetes.
Deficiencies of several vitamins may occur after weight-loss surgery.
So, if you have celiac disease, are older than 50, or take metformin, check with your doctor if you should take vitamin B12 supplements. If you have had weight-loss surgery, you should already be on a vitamin supplement.
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