The patient in the case study was 57 years old and had severe lower back pain for four months and numbness in the right hand. This man was only consuming processed food bought from a convenience store with no consideration of nutritional balance for five long years.
According to a case study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with cognitive impairment and psychiatric symptoms.
Cognitive impairment refers to memory loss, difficulty in communication, decision-making difficulties, constant worrying, hallucinations, delusions, slowed information processing, difficulty in expressing thoughts
Psychiatric symptoms include depression, anger, fear, social withdrawal, confusion, and extreme feelings of pleasure.
A few days before hospitalization he developed symptoms of cognitive impairment and psychiatric symptoms like difficulty in standing, hallucination, and depression.
Surprisingly, the blood analysis and head computed tomography scans were within normal limits, but his behavior was becoming progressively unpredictable with time.
He was then admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the examination of “organic diseases and with a suspicion of acute and transient psychotic disorder,” according to the case study.
After being admitted for 9 days to the psychiatric hospital he developed severe abdominal pain and black stools, after which he was shifted to the emergency department of the university hospital. In a blood test after this incident, it was reported that the patient’s report indicated anemia and renal dysfunction were worthy of attention.
Note: Anemia is a condition in which blood does not have enough red blood cells. Vitamin B-12 produces red blood cells which carry oxygen in the body using hemoglobin whereas renal dysfunction is a condition in which kidneys lose their ability to remove waste and balance fluids.
Not only this but the patient was also found to have atrophic gastritis and enteritis.
On further examination, his serum vitamin B12 levels were found to be low.
The auditory hallucinations and delusions were delirium (a serious change in mental abilities resulting in confusion, memory loss, depression, anxiety, and trouble in reading and writing).
He was then given B12 shots to replenish his levels before switching to tablets.
After some time, his condition started improving.
The authors of the case study then wrote ” In our patient, the cause of the vitamin B12 deficiency was thought to be a combination of reduced dietary intake due to an imbalanced diet, malabsorption of vitamins due to atrophic gastritis, and enteritis.”
WHAT IS VITAMIN B-12?
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is one of eight B vitamins. It is needed in our body to form red blood cells and DNA. Vitamin B12 is important in the function and maturing of the brain, myelin sheaths (protects nerves), nerve cells, and blood cells. Vitamin B-12 is found in many animal-based products and some vegetables but still, its deficiency is very common.
Mostly vitamin B-12 deficiency is caused due to insufficient dietary intake, and certain medical conditions, in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
With age our ability to absorb B12 from food declines, that’s why B-12 deficiency is very common in people who are above 60.
Vitamin B12 is also taken as a medicine to treat Alzheimer’s disease, lack of concentration, and memory loss and to boost metabolism.
WHAT ARE THE Common SYMPTOMS OF Vitamin B-12 deficiency?
This symptom is very common in both adults and kids. According to a study of around 140 people
who have migraines, their blood levels of B-12 were significantly lower than the participants with no migraine history. Some people have even shown improved migraine headache symptoms with B12 treatment.
B12 deficiency can impact your mental health and specifically can greater the risk of depression. It can even damage your DNA and cell death in the body.
According to a study in 2020 with 132 children and teens, 89 people had depression, the research found that the participant with depression had lower b12 levels and homocysteine compared to participants who do not have depression.
3. Gastrointestinal issues
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can also cause constipation, bloating, gas, nausea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. It can affect both kids and adults.
Note: Symptoms like food intolerances which cause diarrhea can also be a symptom of B12 deficiency.
4. Paresthesia in hands and feet
The burning and needles sensation in hands and feet can also be a symptom of vitamin B-12 deficiency. Many times, this symptom gets misdiagnosed as neuropathy in diabetic patients that’s experts recommend getting screened for vitamin B12 deficiency if you take metformin regularly.
5. Muscle cramps and muscle weakness
The B12 deficiency negatively impacts motor and sensory nerve function which can weaken the muscles and cause muscle cramps.
6. Trouble walking
Due to the muscle weakness a person can experience numbness in the feet and limbs which makes them trouble walking
7. Pale skin
A person with B12 deficiency can also have yellow or pale skin. Pale skin is called Jaundice which develops when a person’s body is not producing enough red blood cells. The red blood cells under the skin are responsible for our normal skin color and when our body is not able to produce enough of these cells, the skin starts looking pale.
8. Fast heart rate
As the deficiency can cause anemia, it puts pressure on the body to push a higher volume of blood around the body and more quickly, as this is our body’s way to ensure that enough oxygen is circulating through all the systems and organs.
Treatment for Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Patients with pernicious anemia may need to first take B12 shots. For some time, high doses of the supplement by mouth or nasally are recommended.
- Take vitamin B-12- fortified grains, supplements, or injections if you don’t consume animal products.
- Adults can simply add multi-vitamins which also contain B12, to their routine.
It is requested to take any supplement or even multi-vitamins only after consulting your doctor.