Vitamin B12--also known as cyanocobalamin is an important nutritional element. The human body uses this vitamin to make red blood cells, DNA, and other important products. Cyanocobalamin is also necessary for integrity of the human nervous system. In this regard, one of the symptoms of B12 deficiency is tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet. Other signs of deficiency include anemia, problems with balance, inflammation of the tongue, jaundice, problems with thought processes, weakness and fatigue.
A deficiency of this vitamin can be caused to a number of different things. Some of the more common reasons people are deficient include the following:
- Proton pump inhibitors--while wildly popular for their ability to quell heartburn and GERD and treat ulcers, chronic use of these medications interferes with the absorption of this crucial vitamin from the GI tract.
- Metformin, one of the most popular drugs used to treat type II diabetes can deplete B12 levels over time.
- Advanced age--especially over age 50 (decreased ability to absorb B12 from the gut)
- Vegetarian diet
- Bariatric surgery
Once identified, B12 levels can be restored via B12 injections or oral supplementation. But if you fall into one of the risk categories above, you can be pro-active and include more sources of B12 in your diet. Some good sources include fish, red meats, fortified breakfast cereals, milk, beans, peas and eggs. Bon apetit!