Are You at Risk for Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Vitamin B12 helps make DNA and red blood cells and supports nerve function. Found in animal based foods and some fortified foods, most people get enough vitamin B12, but some people are at risk for deficiency.
Are you at risk? With age the stomach secretes less hydrochloric acid, interfering with the absorption of vitamin B12. Medications for reflux or ulcers which reduce stomach acid, such as proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid) and H2 blockers (Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac), and gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s or celiac disease may also reduce B12 absorption. And you may be at risk if you’re a vegan or vegetarian and have given up animal products, have pernicious anemia or take Metformin for diabetes.
Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include weakness, fatigue, paleness, constipation, loss of appetite and weight loss. But deficiency isn’t easy to recognize because many other conditions have similar symptoms. Deficiency can lead to anemia, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, depression, moodiness, memory loss, behavior changes or nerve problems resulting in numbness, tingling and difficulty walking.
A doctor can check your B12 level with a blood test and discuss supplement options and prevention strategies if you have a deficiency.