According Mount Sinai, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause permanent nerve damage if left untreated. Two signs that this is the case can appear in someone’s hands and feet; specifically, if they notice any numbness or tingling sensation.
This complication is reflected by the NHS which adds that other complications may include:
• Vision problems
• Memory loss
• Have ants
• Loss of physical coordination
• Damage to parts of the nervous system
• Stomach cancer.
On stomach cancer, the NHS writes: “If you have vitamin B12 deficiency caused by pernicious anaemia, your risk of developing stomach cancer is increased.”
Pernicious anemia is one of many causes of vitamin B12 deficiency alongside diet, conditions affecting the stomach or intestines, and medications.
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What is pernicious anemia?
Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks itself. it is the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK.
How does it affect the stomach?
In the stomach, vitamin B12 combines with a protein known as intrinsic factor; this mixture then allows the B12 to be absorbed by the rest of the body.
Pernicious anemia causes the immune system to attack stomach cells that produce this intrinsic factor. this means that the body can no longer absorb the vitamin.
At the time of this writing, scientists do not yet know why pernicious anemia occurs, but they do know that women over 60 are at greater risk for the disease, particularly if there is a history in family.
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How is a B12 deficiency treated?
Each treatment will depend on the cause of the deficiency. In the case of a diet, a general practitioner may recommend increasing the consumption of foods rich in vitamins, such as:
• Select fortified breakfast cereals.
If dietary changes prove insufficient, vitamin B12 injections may be prescribed. There are two types of B12 injection: hydroxocobalamin and cyanocobalamin.
On the timing of these injections, the NHS added: “At first you will have these injections every other day for two weeks or until your symptoms start to improve.”
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How much vitamin B12 does the human body need?
The recommended daily dose for adults aged 19 to 64 is approximately one and a half micrograms per day; a level that one should be able to maintain through a good diet.
However, it all depends on the diet. A vegan person may not be able to get all the B12 they need and may need to use other means such as supplementation in order to get a healthy amount.
Although it is possible to have health problems due to insufficient intake of vitamin B12, there is less evidence on what happens if someone consumes too much.
The NHS writes about vitamin B12 overdoses: “There is not enough evidence to show what the effects of taking high doses of vitamin B12 supplements each day may be.”
Although the adverse health effects of an overdose of vitamin B12 are unknown, what is known are the health problems that can occur from an overdose of another common vitamin, vitamin d.
Vitamin D is the chemical that the body produces when exposed to sunlight. While it’s not possible to overdose on vitamin D from the sun, it is possible to overdose through supplements.
When this happens, a condition known as hypercalcemia develops; this weakens the bones and damages the heart and kidneys.
The UK recommended dose of vitamin D for adults is 100 micrograms, however, the vitamin can also be found in fatty fish, red meat, egg yolks and liver.