causes, symptoms, for vegans?

Vitamin B12 deficiency is often associated with a certain diet, such as a flexible, vegetarian or vegan diet. Dietitian and nutritionist Pauline Fernandez explains the specifics of this deficiency.

The vitamin B12, also called cobalaminis a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for the normal functioning of the brain, nervous system and the formation of red blood cells. She mainly obtained from food (offal meat, fish and shellfish). What is the signs of deficiency vitamin B12? Or more often among vegetarians?

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are varied and usually cause nervous disorders : “delirium, cognitive impairment, depression, irritability, insomnia, numbness of limbsa loss of tastebalance and gait disorders, tinnitus, restless legs syndrome…it can also affect erectile function “, describes dietician and nutritionist Pauline Fernandez. Hematopoietic disorders may also be observed: macrocytic anemia. Other symptoms can be added to this long list: infertilityamenorrhea (lack of rules), skin hyperpigmentation, fatigue, nausea, indigestion,osteoporosis and fracture risk. “There are many symptoms that are not necessarily specific to vitamin B12 deficiency. That is why the diagnosis is not always obvious.“, she emphasizes.

What causes vitamin B12 deficiency?

The reduce consumption of meat, fish, eggs and dairy products can cause vitamin B12 deficiency. “The decline in vitamin B12 levels will be observed over time: it depends on the baseline level and may decrease slowly depending on dietary changes. During the first two years of a flexible diet, it is possible that B12 levels remain within the normal range, and over time this deficiency appears.Pauline Fernandez adds. Certain antacids by reducing stomach acidity, limit the release of vitamin B12 found in food. Aging due to decrease in gastric secretion can also cause B12 deficiency. The Biermer’s diseaseHelicobacter Pylori-related gastritis, malaria, tuberculosis also alcohol and tobacco use cause vitamin B12 deficiency. The needs are also increasing through pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Is it more common among vegetarians?

Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common in vegetarians and vegans because the amount consumed in the daily diet is insufficient. “There are many forms of vegetarianism (eliminating meat only, eliminating meat and fish, etc.) and it is necessary to estimate the frequency of consumption of each food source of vitamin B12 in order to calculate an accurate weekly intake.“.

What is the treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency?

It is from a blood test to detect vitamin B12 deficiency. In case of suspicionanemia, vitamin B9 and iron will also be measured. Recommended by the French Vegan Federation plus a dose of methylmalonic acidperformed internally urineto avoid misdiagnosis. This will add vitamin B12 based on these results. There are several types, the most absorbable is cobalamin. For vegetarians, the daily rate is 15-25 μg/d, and for vegans, up to 100 μg/d, and if the dose is weekly, it increases to 2000 μg/d. “The dosage depends on the person’s inclination: it can be daily, weekly or monthly. If food avoidance continues, lifelong supplementation should be considered“. This treatment can be treated according to a doctor’s prescription.

Thanks to Pauline Fernandez, Dietitian, Nutritionist, hypnosis therapy in Toulouse.

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