What diseases are associated with vitamin B12 deficiency in people over 50?
Vitamin B12 is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Its deficiency can cause various symptoms or diseases, which are not always apparent.
In particular, older people often have low levels of vitamin B12 and are at high risk for diseases caused by this deficiency.
One of the causes of this vitamin deficiency is related to the difficulties of being absorbed by the stomach or small intestine. It has also been observed that deficiency may be due to certain medications or chronic treatments.
Who are the most at risk?
The people who are usually most at risk are those over 50 years old, vegetarians, patients who have undergone surgery on the stomach and those who suffer from pernicious anemia and atrophic gastritis. Children breast-fed by a vegetarian mother are also likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency.
What is vitamin B12 and what does it do?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin which is vital for the formation of red blood cells. It also plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of the nervous system.
Which foods are high in vitamin B12?
Foods rich in vitamin B12 include:
- Meat (red meat, turkey, etc.)
What are the risks of vitamin B12 deficiency?
The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency do not manifest immediately. However, it can be dangerous as the patient is likely to develop diseases or symptoms such as anemia, constant fatigue, neurological diseases, memory problems, walking difficulties, sadness or even hallucinations.
As we grow up, our body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients from food decreases, due a lack of digestive acids. Thus, it is much easier to present health problems due to a deficiency of vitamin B12.
A chronic vitamin B12 deficiency can cause symptoms that are hard to distinguish from other diseases. There are cases in which a memory loss caused by vitamin B12 deficiency is confused with dementia in older people and consequently patients do not get the necessary treatment on time. It is therefore important for the patient to consult the appropriate doctor and perform blood tests to measure the levels of vitamin B12 in the blood.
Book an appointment with a general practitioner.