Understanding Vitamin B12 Deficiencies

Published 09/12 2013 09:21PM

Updated 09/13 2013 11:00AM


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Almost 40 percent of U.S. adults are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency

So we have all heard how important it is to get plenty of minerals and vitamins in our diet.

For some people, this can be life changing, especially if you have deficiency of vitamin B12.

B12 is a nutrient that helps keep our nerves and blood cells healthy and it helps make DNA -- the genetic material made in all the cells of our body. 

For some people, it can help prevent anemia, which can make you feel tired and weak, such as in the case of Julia Robinson.

"I was having a lot of shooting pain and burning like I had lit matches on my fingers and my toes."

With increasing numbers of gastric bypass surgeries performed for morbid obesity, it's likely that incidents and prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency will increase in the United States.

High risk patients include those who are vegetarians, have a history of gastritis, excessive alcohol intake, Crohn’s disease or celiac disease. You may have trouble absorbing B12.

Diagnosis is by simple blood tests.

Treatment is with B12 supplements. Dietary sources of B12 include animal and dairy products such as meat, poultry, milk, and eggs.

Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver and remains in the body for years. The deficiency depends on chronic, long-term deficiency.

"It improves so much my co-workers can actually tell when my B12 levels are getting low again,” says Robison.

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