Just like vitamin D, low levels of B12 is also becoming common in people of all age groups, especially teenagers. It is essential to note that insufficient vitamin B12 levels can cause various serious complications such as anaemia, low-grade inflammation, fatigue, tiredness, cognitive health problems, difficulty in walking, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet.
Hence, it is imperative to monitor ones vitamin B 12 levels at regular intervals to check if it is in the normal and recommended range of 160 to 950 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL), or 118 to 701 picomoles per liter (pmol/L).
Dr Sanjal Nagarkar, general physician, Apollo Spectra Pune said that B12 deficiency is one of the most neglected problems. “One can become low on vitamin B12 when the body does not absorb or store enough of the vitamin, or one doesn’t get enough amount of it,” she said while stressing that vitamin B 12 is essential to make red blood cells, also for nerve function.
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Signs and symptoms
Sensations like numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or legs, inability to walk, anaemia, inflamed tongue, inflammation in the body, cognitive health problems, fatigue, irritability, poor appetite, low muscle tone, depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperpigmentation, seizures, delayed growth, poor motor development, and tiredness.
What causes it?
“Deficiency of vitamin B 12 is increasing due to diet fads, and fast food intake,” mentioned Dr Nagarkar.
Consult the doctor without any delay. He/she will advise you to take a test to ascertain your B12 level. “Then, you will be suggested to take B12 in the form of a supplement or injection. Your treating doctor will direct you regarding how much and how to take it,” said Dr Prerna Agarwal, Manager Technical Operation Apollo Diagnostic Pune.
Sources of vitamin B 12
Dairy products, almonds, salmon, chicken, eggs, mackerel, tofu, mushrooms, and tuna have enough vitamin B12 and can be consumed after consulting an expert. But, also note that high levels of B12 can also be harmful to health. So, follow the instructions given by the doctor.
“Timely detection of B12 deficiency and prompt treatment can help teenagers to avoid severe complications like neurologic issues and blood disease by improving/her growth and development,” Dr Agarwal said.