While the human body is not equipped to produce Vitamin B12, it is usually obtained from animal-based foods like eggs, meat, shellfish, dairy or other supplements. Stressing on the fact that the body needs to retain this vitamin through periodic consumption of food rich in vitamin B12, dieticians add that the body is also not designed to replenish or store the vitamin for a long time.
Stating that the change in food eating habits of many today is one of the main reasons for the deficiency, renowned nutritionist Dr Dharini Krishnan said, “If we eat sufficient amounts of fibre, such a deficit will not be seen. However, as we have developed a liking for Western food, consumption of fibres is coming down.” While stressing on the need to maintain the right kind of diet, to keep the deficiency at bay, she also said, “It leads to anaemia due to battered red blood cell production. Additionally, it hampers nerve efficiency since the synthesis of myelin - which coats the nerve cells and is responsible for their optimum functioning - is affected.”
The report, based on the study that was published, stated that B12 is the powerhouse of the human body that helps generate DNA, nerve and blood cells. It also plays a pivotal role in ensuring healthy functioning of the brain, immune system and metabolism. It found that people above the age of 50, suffering from celiac disease or other digestive problems are also more likely to develop this deficiency. Dr Kirti Chadha, Head, Global Reference Laboratory, Metropolis Healthcare, said, “Growing age makes it difficult to absorb vitamin B12. It also becomes harder if one has had a weight loss surgery or any other surgery of the stomach.
Drinking heavily or taking acid-reducing medications for a long time also affects the absorption of vitamin B12. We have also observed that vitamin B12 deficiency is predominantly higher in vegetarians.” The treatment for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia depends on the cause of the condition. Injections, tablets or supplements are largely prescribed by the general physician as treatment. In most cases, patients will not need further monitoring unless the symptoms recur. One many also need to undergo an annual blood test, to ensure that the vitamin quantity is under control, if advised by the general physician.
It is usually obtained from animal-based foods like eggs, meat, shellfish, dairy or other supplements.
Reasons for the development of vitamin B12 deficiency
Thinning of the stomach lining due to atrophic gastritis
Inefficiency in absorption of vitamin B12 due to pernicious anaemia, immune system disorders such as Graves and disease or lupus
Ailments that affect smooth functioning of the small intestine