Vitamin B12 Deficiency - Symptoms & Possible Treatments

By: Anisa Musleh

Vitamin B12 is not usually discussed or commonly known like Vitamin D, C or A. Many people can tell you what all of those vitamins do and what foods contain high concentrations of them. However, will you get the same response if you asked about vitamin B12? It is essential to discuss how important this vitamin actually is. So important that there have been several cases in the U.S where vitamin B12 deficiency was misdiagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a neurodegenerative disease caused by abnormal nerve covering leading to nerve damage and weak muscles. By the time they figured that it was not actually MS but a deficiency in vitamin B12, the patient’s neurodegeneration was irreversible.

How is MS and vitamin B12 related? Well, for starters, vitamin B12 is involved in sustaining the Central Nervous System and your red blood cells. Furthermore, this vitamin is also crucial for protein metabolism, healthy skin, hair and nails, decrease depression and stress. Even more, vitamin B12 helps protect against stroke high blood pressure, and even some types of cancers like breast, colon, lung and prostate. As you can already see this vitamin is very beneficial to our body. With that being said, it is very critical to test for vitamin B12 deficiency by going to your primary care doctor. There are many symptoms that are present in someone that is deficient of vitamin B12. Such symptoms are fatigue, depression, asthma, loss of memory or appetite, weight loss, etc. There are also physical symptoms as well such as brittle nails, pale or yellowish skin, sore mouth or tongue. However, other things can cause these symptoms as well therefore it is crucial you ask your doctor instead of self-diagnosing it yourself.

Studies have shown that Type 2 diabetics using Metformin can develop vitamin B12 deficiency and it can even lead to neuropathy. As a volunteer at Huda Clinic, I have encountered many patients that take Metformin on a daily basis. This does not mean that all patients using this drug will be vitamin B12 deficient but they are at risk for it. Consequently, it is important to be aware of these mentioned symptoms for vitamin B12 deficiency whether you are using Metformin or not. If you do find that you are vitamin B12 deficient or would like to prevent deficiency it is important you incorporate foods high in vitamin B12 into your diet. Such foods are eggs, milk, fish, cheese, and meat especially beef liver. They all contain a high concentration of vitamin B12. If your diet doesn’t pertain to the list of suggested foods then you can also get a supplement of this or vitamin B12 shots. Vitamin B12 is also contained in a multivitamin supplement. Whether or not you are vitamin B12 deficient it is imperative that you keep a balanced diet and get annual check ups at Huda Clinic.