How to Detect and Treat Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Senior Citizens

How to Detect and Treat Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Senior Citizens

We have all heard about vitamin B12 and how it is one of the most important vitamins for our body. We know that its deficiency can cause a load of problems and elders are most likely to experience vitamin B12 deficiency. But most of the time this condition is overlooked since it develops very slowly.

In this article, we will explain in detail how to detect and treat vitamin B12 deficiency in senior citizens. Along with that, we will also give you a brief about this vitamin. So read till the end to understand the topic completely.

Let us get started.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is an imperative nutrient in our bodies that keep our blood cells and nerve cells healthy. Not only that it also helps in building our DNA, the genetic substance for all our cells. But unlike some vitamins, our bodies are not functioning to make this vitamin by themselves. We need to intake it in our food to meet the daily requirement of 2.4 micrograms per day for adults. Pregnant or breastfeeding women may need more.

Vitamin B12 can be taken in the form of animal products such as meat, eggs and dairy products. You can also get it from some types of cereals, bread and such.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a common condition. Experts say that about 20 per cent of people over 50 experience this condition. But the problem lies in the fact that most people overlook it as a minor issue.

Here are some symptoms of B12 deficiency based on three categories:

General symptoms of B12 deficiency

  • Feeling awfully tired and weak
  • Lack in hunger
  • Skin turning yellowish
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Feeling nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Sour mouth and tongue

Neurological symptoms of B12 deficiency

  • Pins and prickles feeling in hands and feet
  • Blurring vision and other vision problems
  • Having a hard time walking straight
  • Difficulty in speaking normally
  • Feeling confused
  • Difficulty in remembering things

Any neurological condition that may stem from the deficiency of vitamin B12 may not be curable.

Psychological symptoms of B12 deficiency

  • Feeling irritated and frustrated
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling changes in the way you behave

Treating B12 deficiency

Once you diagnose the B12 deficiency with a b12 test, the next step in the process is treating it. Since it is a deficiency, it can be treated by increasing the levels of vitamin B12. Depending on the severity of the condition, an individual with B12 deficiency may only need to take the treatment to bring up the levels of B12 up to normal or they may be left to treat it for the rest of their lives.

The treatments for vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Vitamin B12 nasal spray
  • Vitamin B12 oral medication
  • Vitamin B12 nasal gel
  • Vitamin B12 intramuscular injections

Dosage for vitamin B12 in elders

Elders with vitamin B12 deficiency need to intake vitamin B12 in 2.4 micrograms daily.

Why are senior citizens more likely to have vitamin B12 deficiency?

The people who are at the most risk of experiencing vitamin B12 deficiency are seniors. As a person gets older, the ability of their system to absorb this vitamin decreases. The following are the reason why elders are more likely to have vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • Decreased levels of stomach acids

With age, the levels of stomach acids are likely to go down. This can also be due to the weakening of the stomach lining or medication that reduces the levels.

A decrease in the levels of stomach acids hinders the absorption of vitamin B12 leading to its deficiency.

  • Alcoholism

Alcohol does not only damage your liver but also your stomach. This again could be a roadblock in the process of absorption of vitamin B12.

  • Surgeries

If you have gone through surgeries that removed parts of your small intestine or your stomach, you are more likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency.

  • Medication

Most senior citizens are on medication for one or another thing. Some medications could interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12 in your body. One such medication is metformin which is prescribed to patients with diabetes.

Conclusion

These are some of the most fundamental aspects related to Vitamin B12 Deficiency that every senior citizen should take into consideration. They are the most at risk of experiencing this condition due to several reasons.

We discussed vitamin B12, its importance, its symptoms, its treatment, its required dosage for senior citizens and why elders are at risk of this condition. 

We recommend you not look over the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency or underestimate this deficiency. If you are at risk of having this deficiency and feel the symptoms, you should contact your doctor and get a vitamin b12 test taken.

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