Why Vitamin B12 Deficiency Is Often Missed In Aging Adults
Vitamin B12 deficiency is often missed because the symptoms fatigue, anemia, neuropathy, memory problems, or walking difficulties are quite common in older adults, and can easily be caused by something else.
Also, vitamin B12 deficiency tends to come on very slowly, so people often go through a long period of being mildly deficient. During this time, an older person might have barely noticeable symptoms, or the symptoms might be attributed to another chronic health condition.
Still, a mild deficiency will almost always get worse over time. And even when an older adult has many other causes for fatigue or problems with mobility, its good to fix whatever aggravating factors such as a vitamin deficiency can be fixed.
Unlike many problems that affect aging adults, vitamin B12 deficiency is quite treatable. Detection is the key then make sure the treatment plan has raised the vitamin B12 levels and kept them steady.
Vitamin Deficiency And Heart Palpitations
There are very few vitamin deficiencies that cause heart palpitations. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, insufficient folic acid can result in anemia. Anemia, in turn, can cause heart palpitations, fatigue, shortness of breath and a variety of other symptoms.
Insufficient vitamin B12 can also lead to anemia and thereby result in heart palpitations. Deficiencies in folate and vitamin B12 often go hand in hand. However, anemia is a fairly severe side effect of nutrient deficiency. You’re likely to experience other common side effects of B-complex vitamin deficiency, like oral health problems, before experiencing heart palpitations.
That being said, if you have been diagnosed with a folate deficiency, you can find this nutrient in a variety of animal and plant-based products. Beef liver, spinach, legumes, asparagus and Brussels sprouts are all good sources of folate.
Vitamin B12 is harder to obtain, because it’s primarily found in meat, seafood and dairy products. However, certain sea vegetables and mushrooms also contain this nutrient. Yeasts and cereals are also fortified with vitamin B12.
Vitamin D has also been associated with heart palpitations, but only in large amounts. Instead of these being vitamin deficiency heart palpitations, they are heart palpitations caused by over-supplementation. Excessive amounts of vitamin D can also raise calcium levels another essential nutrient associated with heart palpitations.
Symptoms Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Without proper vitamin B12 levels, red blood cells will not reproduce properly, so their production will reduce, leading to anemia. Symptoms of anemia can include fatigue, shortness of breath, and an irregular heartbeat. Patients may also experience weight loss, pale skin and diarrhea.
Low levels of vitamin B12 can also affect proper neurological function. You may see symptoms such as depression, memory problems, confusion and fatigue.2,3 While these neurological symptoms alone may not be enough to pinpoint a vitamin B12 deficiency, a combination of neurological difficulty with anemia may well point to a deficiency.
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Treatment Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency should include a combination of supplementation and changes in diet to include more foods that contain adequate levels of vitamin B12. The National Institute of Health recommends that adults and teens over the age of 14 consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day, which can be obtained through supplements.
Pregnant women should have 2.6 mcg, and those nursing infants should take in 2.8 mcg daily.2 Good food sources for vitamin B12 include meat, fish , eggs, dairy, and fortified grain products.3 Milk, cheese, and yogurt are good options for your vegetarian patients who will consume dairy products.
Your vegan patients, however, should get most of their vitamin B12 from supplements, as fortified grain products alone will not provide recommended daily levels.
While it is true that eating mostly fruits and vegetables is a healthier way to eat, it is also vital to obtain enough of the vital nutrients that are usually only found from animal protein sources. Helping your vegetarian and vegan patients get enough vitamin B12 in their diet can allow them to optimize their diet for maximum benefit.
When To See Your Doctor
If you experience rapid heart rate regularly, or it is becoming more frequent, you need to see your doctor to rule out serious medical conditions. A rapid heart rate can be caused by more than a vitamin B-12 deficiency, and the American Heart Association reports that a fast heart rate may be due to ventricular tachycardia, which starts in the lower chambers of the heart. Ventricular tachycardia may be due to a blocked artery which causes lack of oxygen to the heart an abnormality in the heart structure or sarcoidosis, which is an inflammatory disease that affects body tissues, including the heart. Ventricular tachycardia is life-threatening and could result in heart attack and death.
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B12 Injection Can Improve Your Overall Health
B12 is essential for so many aspects of your health, from your head to your toes. B12 is essential for building DNA and blood cells, developing healthy skin, and reducing your risk of heart disease and vision loss. Come speak to the professional team at Anazoa MD in Steamboat Springs, COto learn how injections of B12 can boost your energy, kickstart your metabolism and help you lose weight, and improve your overall health.
Symptoms Of A Vitamin B12 Deficiency
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Symptoms tend to develop slowly and may not be recognized immediately, says Quijano-Vega. As the condition worsens, she says common symptoms include the following:
Weakness and fatigue: Vitamin B12 helps make red blood cells, which are the carriers of oxygen throughout the body. If you don’t have enough, you can feel tired and weak.
Light-headedness or dizziness: If you have a B12 deficiency so significant that it causes anemia, you will feel light-headed and dizzy on exertion. This is because you don’t have enough oxygen throughout your body.
Heart palpitations and rapid heartbeat: Heart palpitations are one symptom of anemia, and if your anemia is caused by low B12, it can lead to heart palpitations.
Shortness of breath: Similarly, if you have anemia from a low amount of vitamin B12 and a lower amount of red blood cells circulating, you can experience difficulty with a full inhale.
A sore tongue that has a red, beefy appearance: A low vitamin B12 decreases iron. Because iron controls levels of myoglobin, a substance in the blood that is very important in the role of all muscle health, including the tongue, you may notice an impact on the tongue. This is most common for those on a vegetarian diet.
Nausea or poor appetite: When you are weak and your body doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can cause a decreased appetite and nausea.
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How Vitamin B12 Deficiency Affects The Body
Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most prevalent nutritional deficiencies. It causes a range of symptoms, such as fatigue, forgetfulness, and tingling of the hands and feet. The reason for the wide variety of symptoms is that vitamin B12 plays a principal role in numerous body functions.
Nausea Vomiting And Diarrhea
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can affect the digestive tract.
A lack of red blood cells means that not enough oxygen reaches the gut. Insufficient oxygen here may lead to a person both feeling and being sick. It may also cause diarrhea.
The following factors make a person more likely to have a vitamin B-12 deficiency:
- being older, because a person becomes less able to absorb B-12 as they age
- eating a vegetarian or vegan diet
- taking anti-acid medication for an extended period
- weight loss surgery or other stomach surgery, which can affect how the digestive system absorbs vitamin B-12
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Diagnosis Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Usually, vitamin B12 deficiency is suspected when routine blood tests detect large red blood cells. Doctors sometimes suspect it when people have typical symptoms of nerve damage, such as tingling or loss of sensation. If the deficiency is suspected, the level of vitamin B12 in the blood is measured.
Usually, doctors also measure the blood level of folate to rule out folate deficiency Folate Deficiency Folate deficiency is common. Because the body stores only a small amount of folate, a diet lacking in folate leads to a deficiency within a few months. Not eating enough raw leafy vegetables… read more , which can also result in large red blood cells.
If vitamin B12 deficiency is confirmed in an older person, no other tests are done because the cause, such as low stomach acidity, is usually not serious. In a younger person, other tests, including other blood tests, may be done to determine the cause.
Endoscopy may be done to check for destruction of stomach cells that produce intrinsic factor.
Vitamin B12 And Folate
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Spend A Few Minutes Reading Any Health Magazine Or Browsing A Food Trend Website And It Soon Becomes Obvious That The Vegetarian And Vegan Lifestyle Is Not Only Hot But Shows Absolutely No Sign Of Slowing Down
In fact, a recent, marketing data report found that in 2017, almost half of German consumers reported following a diet that was low in meat, which was significantly higher than only a quarter of all consumers in 2014.1 Furthermore, the number of Americans who reported following a vegan lifestyle increased from 1 percent in 2014 to 6 percent in 2017.
Odds are good that you are nodding along with this trend, as you are already well aware of the health benefits that your patients can obtain from increasing their daily intake of fruits and vegetables. In fact, odds are quite good that a significant portion of your patients who see you for regular wellness visits may already be following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
While you should certainly encourage your vegetarian and vegan patients to keep to a healthy diet, it is important to make certain that they are still getting the nutrients that usually come from animal protein sources through proper vitamin and mineral supplementation.
Vitamin B12 is an excellent example of a nutrient that is rarely found outside of animal protein sources, so can be difficult for vegetarian and vegans to obtain in sufficient amounts.2,3
What Supplements Can Cause Heart Arrhythmia
. In respect to this, can vitamins cause heart palpitations?
Dietary supplements and vitaminsAn excessive amount of vitamin D, for example, can give you palpitations. Weight-loss supplements are especially known to cause issues. Next: Sometimes palpitations are more dangerous than they initially seem.
can magnesium supplements cause arrhythmia? Magnesium Helps Your Heart Keep the BeatElectrolytes are all-important for nerve signals and the muscle contractions of a normal heartbeat. Research shows that magnesium deficiency or restricted magnesium intake increases irregular heartbeats known as arrhythmias.
In this manner, what supplements can cause irregular heartbeat?
Magnesium and potassium, along with sodium and calcium, are examples of electrolytes that are present in the blood. Electrolytes help trigger and regulate electrical impulses in the heart and low levels of magnesium and potassium can lead to an electrolyte imbalance, which can contribute to arrhythmia.
Can vitamin D cause irregular heartbeat?
Taking too much Vitamin D can raise the risk of your heart beating too fast and out of rhythm, a new report says. The study, which followed 132,000 patients at a Utah based medical center, found that the risk of newly developed atrial fibrillation jumped almost three-fold when blood levels of vitamin D were high.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know
If a person is deficient in both B12 and folate but only takes folic acid supplements, the B12 deficiency may be masked. The anemia associated with both may be resolved, but the underlying neuropathy will persist.
Intrinsic factor antibodies can interfere with the vitamin B12 test, producing falsely elevated results. If a person has these antibodies in their blood, the results of their B12 test must be interpreted with caution.
Since folate deficiency is rarely seen in the U.S., some laboratories no longer offer the folate test. Your sample may need to be sent to a reference laboratory.
How Do You Know If You Have A Vitamin B12 Deficiency
- Pale of jaundiced skin:
If you do not have enough B12 in your body, you may notice a pale or yellow tinge to your skin, known as jaundice. This occurs as a result of problems with the bodys red blood cell production.
- Weakness and fatigue:
When your body doesnt have sufficient B12, it is difficult for oxygen to be transported through your body. This causes you to feel overly tired and weak.
- The feeling of pins and needles:
Long-term nerve damage is a more serious effect of B12 deficiency. Typically, this occurs over time, as your body is unable to get enough of the fatty substance myelin, which serves as a protectant of your nerves.
When your deficiency goes untreated, it can result in changes to the way you walk and move. In some cases, it can even impact your balance and coordination. This can be serious for the elderly as it leaves them susceptible to falling.
- Tongue and mouth problems:
An inflamed tongue, also known as glossitis, can occur as a result of a B12 vitamin deficiency. Not only is it painful, it can also impact how you eat and speak. Those with a deficiency may also experience ulcers and a burning sensation in the mouth.
- Shortness of breath and dizziness:
A B12 deficiency can easily lead to anemia. When this happens, your body doesnt have the red blood cells necessary to get enough oxygen to your bodys cellswhich can cause you to feel short of breath and dizzy.
- Blurred vision:
- Changes in mood:
- High body temperature:
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Causes Of Folate Deficiency
Folate dissolves in water, which means your body is unable to store it for long periods of time. Your body’s store of folate is usually enough to last four months. This means you need folate in your daily diet to ensure your body has sufficient stores of the vitamin.
Like vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia, folate deficiency anaemia can develop for a number of reasons. Some are described below.
Signs Of B12 Deficiency
With B12 deficiency, direct nerve damage combined with a decrease of myelin interferes with normal nerve function. The peripheral nerves control movement and sensation of the body.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy usually affect the feet and hands and may extend to include the arms and legs as well. The most common symptoms include:
Dementiais a disease characterized by memory loss and behavioral changes. There are many causes of dementia, and vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the more recently recognized causes. Scientific research suggests that the dementia associated with vitamin B12 deficiency may be a result of elevated homocysteine levels.
Symptoms of dementia include:
- Loss of ability to take care of oneself
- Problem-solving difficulties
Depression is a possible manifestation of vitamin B12 deficiency and may be accompanied by anemia or dementia.
Strokeis a medical condition characterized by interruption of blood flow to the brain, causing a physical or mental handicap. Vitamin B12 deficiency may increase the risk of stroke among young people who are not otherwise at risk of stroke. Whether or not there is a link is highly controversial, and the risk may result from excess homocysteine levels.
Symptoms of subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord include:
- Balance problems
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What Does Vitamin B12 Do
Vitamin B12 is crucial for a number of functions in the human body, including formation of red blood cells, creation and regulation of DNA, neurological function and energy production. Studies have shown that proper vitamin B12 levels may improve cognitive function, cardiovascular health and energy levels.2,3
In essence, the body depends on vitamin B12 for all metabolic function.
Symptoms Of B12 Deficiency:
In a different Eat This, Not That! article about vitamin B deficiency, Sydney Greene, MS, RD says that elderly people are at high risk of B12 deficiency because, “as we age, we lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food.”
Symptoms include extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, numbness, tingling, or burning in either the hands, legs, or feet, and developing ulcers or sores in the mouth. Even psychological changes can be an indicator of low vitamin B12 levels.
Of course, the best way to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency is to eat foods that are rich in it. However, Greene has said, “I always recommend that my female clients taking oral contraceptives speak to their doctor about starting a B complex supplement, especially if they are experiencing sudden low energy or mood swings,” as birth control is known to deplete vitamins B2, B6, and B12.
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Heart Failure Tough On B Vitamins
Malnutrition is one of the many complications of advanced heart failure. It is the result of physical, chemical, and hormonal changes that dull the appetite and rev up metabolism. In addition, diuretics can wash some nutrients out of the body. A survey of 100 Canadians hospitalized for heart failure showed that 27% had a deficiency of vitamin B2 and 38% were quite low on vitamin B6 . The findings were published in the August 2009 Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Earlier studies have shown that up to one-third of people with heart failure have below-normal levels of vitamin B1 as well.
These three B vitamins are important for energy production and the formation of red blood cells. Deficiencies could be one cause of the lack of energy and anemia often associated with heart failure.
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