Vitamin B12 Deficiency: When the Nerves Suffer

A lack of vitamin B12 is widespread: In Germany, every tenth person has too little vitamin B12 in their blood. One in four people over the age of 65 is affected. A lack of vitamin B12 leads to nerve damage. Possible consequences are tiredness, weakness, anemia, and nervous disorders. The causes of a vitamin B12 deficiency are as diverse as the symptoms.

Vitamin B12 for metabolism, blood, and nerves

The body needs vitamin B12 for energy metabolism, the formation of blood cells, and building up the nerve sheaths. Vitamin B12 is one of the few vitamins that humans cannot produce themselves. It is found in large amounts in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Vitamin B12 is released in the body by stomach acid and digestive enzymes. A special protein (“intrinsic factor”) transports the vitamin to the small intestine cells. From there it gets into the blood and nerves.

How does vitamin B12 deficiency occur?

Common causes of a lack of vitamin B12 are

  • Deficiency of the protein intrinsic factor
  • chronic inflammation of the stomach or intestines
  • Taking medication for diabetes or too much stomach acid
  • regular alcohol consumption
  • With increasing age, the performance of the gastrointestinal tract also decreases. Vitamins can then no longer be absorbed as well.

Recognize symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

The body has large vitamin B12 depots in the liver. A shortage is therefore only noticed years after the beginning of the undersupply. The symptoms are not always easy to diagnose:

  • Sensitivity disorders up to paralysis
  • burning tongue
  • Tingling in arms and legs
  • Unsteady gait, increased tendency to fall
  • muscle weakness
  • Fatigue, lack of concentration
  • headache
  • depression
  • confusion
  • hair loss
  • anemia

Treat vitamin B12 deficiency with the right diet

The right diet can prevent a deficiency in vitamin B12. Meat, milk, and eggs should be on the menu, especially for older people. Vegans should also make sure they get enough vitamin B12. If a vitamin B12 deficiency is discovered in good time and corrected under medical supervision, damaged nerves can recover. The doctor makes the diagnosis with a blood test.

Vitamin B12 overdose increases the risk of lung cancer

Only after the medical diagnosis should those affected take vitamin preparations or dietary supplements as a substitute. Because artificially added vitamins can have undesirable side effects. It cannot be ruled out that a long-term overdose of vitamin B12 increases the risk of lung cancer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top