Vitamin B12 Deficiency Dangers

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, around 15 percent of adults 65 and older suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. Not having enough of this vitamin causes a number of medical complications.

  1. Function

    • Vitamin B12 is important to the production of nerve cells and oxygen-carrying red blood cells. The vitamin also plays a role in making DNA, which is the building block for all new cells, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    Sources

    • Foods high in vitamin B12 include liver, fish, meat, poultry, dairy products, fortified cereals and eggs. Synthetic B12 supplements are also available in pill form.

    Dosage

    • Adults ages 14 and over require 2.4mcg per day, with pregnant women needing slightly more at 2.6mcg.

    Causes

    • Often, vitamin B12 deficiencies occur due to poor diet, but vegetarians and vegans are also susceptible to deficiencies since B12 is found primarily in sources of animal protein. Also medical factors, such as pernicious anemia, which causes your stomach to improperly absorb nutrients, can lead to B12 deficiency.

    Risks

    • Vitamin B12 deficiency causes a number of possible problems, including irritability, personality changes, memory impairment, dementia, depression, psychosis, difficulty maintaining balance, confusion, poor memory, nerve pain and tingling in your extremities. Deficiencies also pose a risk for stroke and heart attacks, nerve damage and shortages of important red and white blood cells as well as platelets.

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