Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that plays a role in your body.
What does vitamin B12 do?
Vitamin B12 is important for a number of functions in your body. Your body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, the cells that transport oxygen throughout your body. Vitamin B12 helps maintain the correct shape of the red blood cells. In people that are deficient in vitamin B12, the red blood cells become irregularly shaped. As a result, the red blood cell cannot provide the appropriate amount of oxygen to the body, leading to anemia. Symptoms of anemia include weakness and fatigue.
Vitamin B12 is important for pregnant women because it is required for fetal brain development. Pregnant women who are low in vitamin B12 are more likely to deliver babies with birth defects. Low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to premature delivery and miscarriage. In adults, vitamin B12 may decrease the loss of brain cells, which can lead to memory loss and dementia. Therefore, vitamin B12 may help improve your memory.
Vitamin B12 is important for bone health. Studies have shown a link between low vitamin B12 levels and weaker bones. This makes the bones more fragile and susceptible to fractures. Low vitamin B12 levels can increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Vitamin B12 can affect your mood. Vitamin B12 is required to make serotonin in your body, a chemical important in regulating your mood. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to symptoms of depression.
Vitamin B12 helps to support the health of your skin, hair, and nails. Lowe levels of vitamin B12 can lead to a number of skin disorders and supplemental vitamin B12 helps to improve symptoms of these disorders.
Who is at risk for low vitamin B12 levels?
Vitamin B12 is in many foods. However, some people do not get enough vitamin B12 as a result of their diet, medications, or medical history. People on a strict vegan diet (which has become more and more popular) can have low levels of vitamin B12. Some medications for diabetes (metformin) and heartburn (antacids) can decrease the levels of vitamin B12 that your body is able to absorb. People with medical conditions that affect absorption of food and people who have had surgery to remove part(s) of their digestive tract may have low levels of vitamin B12.
What are symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
Low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to a variety of symptoms. These include weakness, pale skin, jaundice (yellow color to the skin), mood changes, and mouth ulcers. Since vitamin B12 is important for your nerves, lack of vitamin B12 can lead to a pins and needles sensation on your skin, decrease in balance and coordination, and visual changes. A simple blood test from your doctor can determine the level of vitamin B12 in your body.
What can I do if I have low vitamin B12 levels?
Vitamin B12 can be administered by a simple injection into your muscle. Dr. Alex uses a painless injection technique (just like when injecting Botox) to make it easy. Some people should not receive vitamin B12 injections. This includes people with a rare condition called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, people sensitive to cobalt, and those with polycythemia vera.