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Saturday, 15 June 2013

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Side Effects of a Lack of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for the formation of red blood cells necessary for oxygen transport, nerve function and DNA synthesis, which is necessary for proper growth and development. Vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal products such as meats, seafood and eggs, but it is also found in milk and fortified cereal products. The Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health recommends that most individuals over 14 years of age consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can be caused by malabsorption issues and vegetarians, those with a poor diet or those with poor nutrition during pregnancy are examples of groups at risk for developing a deficiency, according to ODS, which increases the risk of various health problems.

Megaloblastic Anemia

Vitamin B12, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at the University of Oregon, is necessary for the absorption of folate by the body, which is needed for DNA synthesis for development of red blood cells. Therefore, a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to development of large, immature, hemoglobin-poor red blood cells that do not provide enough oxygen to the body's tissues. Known as megaloblastic anemia, this condition can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, diarrhea, loss of appetite and problems concentrating, according to MedlinePlus. Supplementation with folic acid can provide enough folate for the body in order to restore normal red blood cell development; however, if vitamin B12 deficiency is the cause of megaloblastic anemia, then the condition will continue until the deficiency is corrected

Neurologic Symptoms

Since vitamin B12 is involved in the development of the protective coat of nerves known as the myelin sheath, a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to neurologic problems, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Symptoms such as numbness and tingling of the arms and legs, memory problems, disorientation, dementia, mood changes and depression may result from vitamin B12 deficiency, according to ODS.

Eating and Digestive Problems

Impaired DNA synthesis or malabsorption issues underlying some cases of vitamin B12 deficiency explain some eating and digestive issues associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Tongue soreness, bleeding gums, loss of appetite and constipation have been associated with deficiency of vitamin B12, according to MedlinePlus and the Linus Pauling Institute

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