The Lady Justice who holds a prominent position in courts creates awareness about the supreme awareness of a balance scale. This scale is the perfect representation of the necessity of balance in life-this world and our life are a balance between different things. Weight loss is a balance between calories consumed and calories burned, our savings are a balance between money earned and money spent and even the food we eat is a balance between nutrients and taste. A small change in the alignment of this balance has the potential to disrupt peace and create a havoc in life.
Too Little of Many Things
We are living in a world where medicines and treatments have become an inevitable part of each of our lives owing to our unhealthy lifestyles. Neither the food we eat is enriched with health nor do we humans too take enough care to fill our tummies with nutrients. Such careless eating styles have led to a state wherein medicines instead of foods have become our supplements for the different essential nutrients required by our body. Vitamin D holds the top-most position in this deficiency list whereas individuals as young as 10-year-old or as old as 70-year-old are lacking in this vitamin. Vitamin B12 is gaining pace and trying to overtake vitamin D in becoming one of the most-common vitamin deficiencies in humans. So, instead of competing for good health we have been competing against each other for nutritional deficiencies.
There are eight different B vitamins that strive hard to supply your body with energy by converting food into fuel. Vitamin B12 is all the more important for producing DNA and maintaining healthy nerve and red blood cells. A normal adult is recommended to consume 2.4 micrograms a day of vitamin B12 and most individuals do that by eating enough portions of proteins. Deficiency hits a person only when the individual doesn’t consume much of the required vitamin or the consumed vitamins doesn’t get absorbed properly by the body. Just like most vitamins, vitamin B12 cannot be secreted by the body and the only sources are foods or supplements. This makes most elderly people above the age of 50 deficient in this vitamin. But, nowadays youngsters, individuals as young as 20 lack this essential nutrient.
While causes are many two of them dominate the list-following a vegan/vegetarian diet and weight-loss surgery. Animals sources are the only food sources and those who stick to eating plant-based foods are at the highest risk of developing this deficiency, especially when they don’t eat grains fortified with the vitamin or take oral supplements. Also, those who have undergone weight-loss surgery are at a higher risk as the surgery interferes with the body’s ability to extract vitamin B12 from food sources. Other risk factors include heartburn drugs (that reduce acid production in the stomach which is needed for absorbing vitamin B12) and celiac or Crohn’s disease that interfere with food absorption.
Symptoms appear gradually and intensify over time but are often confused with some other diseases owing to the symptoms that happen. Common symptoms include:
Elevating B12 Levels
While multivitamins are prescribed for a mild deficiency either shots or daily high-dose B12 medications are prescribed for serious deficiencies.
For vegans/vegetarians, consuming breads, cereals and other grains fortified with B12 is essential or they must take a multivitamin supplement daily. For those above the age of 50 taking a daily dose of B12 becomes strictly necessary as the body lacks the ability to absorb the nutrient from food. Animal sources include meat, fish, eggs and poultry.
Early detection of the deficiency and treatment is important for timely action to prevent unnecessary side effects. That’s because, when left without replenishing the needed B12 levels the deficiency can cause severe neurological problems and blood diseases.
Though there are numerous articles and advertisements for keeping yourself properly enriched with vitamin B12 levels in the body for preventing Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and other chronic diseases as well as for reversing eczema, fatigue and infertility most of them don’t have solid proofs or conclusive evidences backing the theory. Hence, each of us are bound to stock our body with the required B12 levels for proper functioning of our body parts and systems.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.