6. Cognitive Decline
Low vitamin B12 levels may be the reason behind poor memory and cognitive decline.
Vitamin B12 allows brain cells to form new connections, a process that allows memory formation.
Plus, it is a vital component of myelin, the coating that protects many brain cells. This is why its deficiency can lead to serious nerve damage and deteriorating brain functioning.
A 2005 study published in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology suggests that cobalamin deficiency may cause a reversible dementia in elderly patients.
This type of dementia is different than Alzheimer’s disease, hence it needs to be differentiated by a thorough neuropsychological evaluation.
Another 2011 study published in Neurology reports that people with low blood levels of vitamin B12 markers may be more likely to have lower brain volumes and have problems with thinking skills.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to an underactive thyroid gland, also known as hypothyroidism.
The thyroid gland needs a variety of nutrients to produce hormones that regulate many of the body’s functions. Vitamin B12 is one of those nutrients.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association reports that vitamin B12 deficiency is common in primary hypothyroidism. Supplementation leads to improvement in symptoms.
The study emphasized screening for vitamin B12 levels in all hypothyroid patients, irrespective of their thyroid antibody status.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can affect both male and female fertility.
A 2001 study published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine reports that vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to infertility and recurrent miscarriages.
The study explains that hypercoagulability due to raised homocysteine levels may lead to fetal loss during the initial stage of vitamin B12 deficiency.
More prolonged deficiency may cause changes in ovulation or development of the ovum, or changes leading to defective implantation and ultimately infertility.
This vitamin deficiency not only makes it difficult to conceive, it can even make it hard to carry the baby to full term.
If you wish to conceive, opt for a B12 test to improve your chance of getting pregnant naturally.
Tips to Fix Vitamin B12 Deficiency
If you think you have symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, you can ask your doctor for a blood test. To correct a deficiency, you can:
- Eat foods high in vitamin B12, such as fish, shellfish, meat (especially liver), eggs, milk and milk products.
- Those who do not eat animal-based products can try foods fortified with B12, such as breakfast cereals, soy products, energy bars and nutritional yeast. As the risk for a B12 deficiency is much higher if you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, get a B12 test on a regular basis.
- Those who take medications for diabetes or acid reflux must also opt for a B12 test, as some of these medications can interfere with healthy B12 levels.
- You can opt to take supplements in pill or injection forms. Be sure to consult your doctor, as supplements can affect the effectiveness of certain medications.