Some people don’t consume enough vitamin B12 to meet their needs, while others can’t absorb enough, no matter how much they take in. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older people, reports Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat.
A severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to deep depression, paranoia and delusions, memory loss, incontinence, loss of taste and smell, and more. The human body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, nerves, and DNA, and to carry out other functions. Like most vitamins, B12 can’t be made by the body. Instead, it must be gotten from food or supplements. The risk of B12 deficiency increases with age.
The best sources of this important vitamin is animal-based foods including meat, milk, cheese and eggs, as well as supplements, reports WebMD.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are slow to develop and intensify gradually. Symptoms may include:
- Strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet
- Difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)
- A swollen, inflamed tongue
- Yellowed skin (jaundice)
- Difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss
- Paranoia or hallucinations
If you think you might have a deficiency, see your doctor. A blood test will confirm the condition.