B12 deficiency is dangerous

Vitamin B12 deficiency: when the nerves are suffering

Status: 17.09.2018 16:33 | archive
A deficiency in vitamin B12 can be proven with a blood test.

A deficiency in vitamin B12 is widespread: in Germany, one in ten people has too little vitamin B12 in their blood. By the age of 65, one in four is affected. If there is a lack of vitamin B12, nerve damage occurs. Possible consequences are fatigue, weakness, anemia and nervous disorders. The causes of a vitamin B12 deficiency are as diverse as the symptoms.

VIDEO: Vitamin B12 deficiency: when the nerves are suffering (6 min)

Vitamin B12 for metabolism, blood and nerves

The body needs vitamin B12 for energy metabolism, for the formation of blood cells and to build up the nerve sheaths. Vitamin B12 is one of the few vitamins that humans cannot produce themselves. It is found in large quantities in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Vitamin B12 is released in the body through stomach acid and digestive enzymes. A special protein ("intrinsic factor") transports the vitamin to the cells of the small intestine. From there it gets into the blood and to the nerves.

How does a vitamin B12 deficiency come about?

Common causes of vitamin B12 deficiency are

  • Deficiency of the intrinsic factor protein
  • chronic inflammation of the stomach or intestines
  • Taking medication for diabetes or too much stomach acid
  • regular alcohol consumption

The performance of the gastrointestinal tract also decreases with age. Vitamins can then no longer be absorbed so well.

Recognize symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

The body has large vitamin B12 stores in the liver. A deficiency is therefore only noticeable years after the onset of the undersupply. Symptoms are not always easy to diagnose:

  • Sensory disturbances up to paralysis
  • burning tongue
  • Tingling in arms and legs
  • Unsteady gait, increased tendency to fall
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tiredness, poor concentration
  • a headache
  • depression
  • confusion
  • Hair loss
  • Anemia

Treating vitamin B12 deficiency with proper nutrition

Proper nutrition can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency. Meat, milk and eggs should be on the menu, especially for older people. Vegans should also ensure that they have a sufficient supply of vitamin B12. If a vitamin B12 deficiency is discovered in good time and corrected under medical supervision, damaged nerves can recover. The doctor makes the diagnosis with a blood test.

Overdosing on vitamin B12 increases the risk of lung cancer

Only after a doctor's diagnosis should those affected take vitamin preparations or dietary supplements as a substitute. Because artificially supplied vitamins can have undesirable side effects. It cannot be ruled out that a permanent overdose of vitamin B12 increases the risk of lung cancer.

Recognize and remedy vitamin D deficiency

At least 30 percent of Germans have too little vitamin D in their blood during the winter months. Those who live in northern Germany are at an even higher risk due to the lower solar radiation. more

Experts on the subject

Dr. Uwe Jahnke, chief physician
Schoen Clinic Neustadt
Neurology. Clinical Neurophysiology
Am Kiebitzberg 10, 23730 Neustadt / Holstein
Tel. (04561) 54 45 74 00

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Visit | 09/18/2018 | 8:15 pm