Sunday, 6 July 2014

Vitamin B12

Definition:

Vitamin B12 commonly known as Cobalamin is vital for the formation of red blood cells, as well as for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin. Lack of sufficient amount of vitamin B12 in the body cause vitamin B12 deficiency which results in anemia (pernicious anemia) and irreversible nerve and brain damage.

Causes:
• Decreased dietary intake. Especially in vegans.
• Less absorption of vitamin B12
• Diabetes medications also interfere with less absorption of vitamin B12.

Symptoms:
• Fatigue
• Headache
• Dizziness
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Constipation
• Diarrhea
• Confusion
• Irritability
• Menstrual cycle disturbance
• Weight loss
• Palpitation
• Heartburn
• Numbness and tingling of the fingers of hands/feet.
• Muscular weakness
• Chest pain
• Shortness of breath
• Pale skin

Investigations:
• Blood test with red blood cell count
• RBC morphology
• Bone intrinsic factor antibody levels
• Bone marrow biopsy.

Complication:
• Anemia (pernicious anemia) with extreme tiredness and lethargy.
• Heart and lungs system: adults with severe anemia are at risk of
o Tachycardia
o Heat failure
• Nervous system:
o Vision problems
o Memory loss
o Ataxia (loss of physical coordination, affecting whole body causing difficulty speaking or walking).
o Pricing and tingling feeling in the arms, legs, hands and feet (Paraesthesia)
• Sometimes vitamin B12 deficiency causes temporary sterility.
• Neural Tube defects:
o Spina bifida (Spine does not develop properly).
o Anencephaly( brain and skull bone do not develop properly)

Prognosis:
Prognosis is well after proper and regular treatment, but if not treated one can develop nerve damage.

Management:
• Vitamin B12 is found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and milk products.
• Fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy milks, and fortified energy bars.
• Vitamin B12 supplements.