You have not been your usual self lately, and have been feeling sluggish and forgetful. While it may be easy to brush it off as an “off-day,” these symptoms may actually be indicative of Vitamin B12 deficiency, as shared in a feature on The Wall Street Journal.
B12 is a key nutrient in making red blood cells and DNA, and in keeping the nervous system working correctly. It is actually a rare condition; a study conducted in 2005 revealed that it only affects 1 in 1,000 Americans.
Elderly people, however, are more prone to the condition, as are people who do not eat meat or dairy products. Those who have absorption problems, as well as those who are taking acid-blocking medications and those who are taking the drug Metformin for their Type 2 diabetes, also have higher rates of Vitamin B12 deficiency.
The symptoms of low B12 levels include anemia, depression, dementia, confusion, loss of appetite, and balance problems. Long-term B12 deficiencies may result in severe anemia and nerve damage, among others.
The recommended dietary allowances for Vitamin B12 (based on information from the National Academy of Sciences) are as follows:
• 0-6 months: 400 nanograms
• 6-12 months: 500 ng
• 1-3 years: 900 ng
• 4-8 years: 1.2 micrograms
• 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
• 14 years and older: 2.4 mcg
• Pregnant women: 2.6 mcg
• Nursing mothers: 2.8 mcg
Vitamin B12 supplements may help address issues of Vitamin B12 deficiency. B12 levels can also be increased by consuming B12-rich foods, which include meat, liver, poultry, fish and dairy products.