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Vitamin B-12 Deficiency - What You Need to Know

Elder Care in Marietta GA

Did you know that a person’s risk for developing a vitamin B-12 deficiency goes up with age? The fact is that a vitamin B-12 deficiency can have serious consequences, but many elderly adults and their caregivers may not be aware of the signs and symptoms. Vitamin B-12 is an essential nutrient that helps the body to make red blood cells. When an elderly adult doesn’t get enough vitamin B-12, they can have harmful symptoms which can even decrease quality of life. Read on for some more information about vitamin B-12 deficiencies and what you can do to make sure that your elderly loved one gets all the vitamin B-12 that they need.

What causes a vitamin B-12 deficiency?

The elderly are at a higher risk for a vitamin B-12 deficiency than younger adults. Many times, it is caused by not getting enough vitamin B-12 in the diet. Vitamin B-12 is found in dairy foods, meat, poultry, and seafood, so those who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet can have a higher risk for developing a vitamin B-12 deficiency. A vitamin B-12 deficiency can also happen to elderly adults who have other medical conditions such as atrophic gastritis, pernicious anemia, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, a parasite or bacterial infection in the small intestine, Grave’s disease, or lupus. In addition, it can be caused by heavy drinking, using acid-reducing drugs, and having a part of the stomach or small intestine surgically removed.

What are the symptoms of a vitamin B-12 deficiency?

If the deficiency is mild, your loved one may not display any symptoms. However, if it is left untreated and it progresses, it can cause many serious symptoms such as tiredness or weakness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, pale skin, digestive symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, or appetite loss, vision loss, numbness or muscle weakness, memory loss, depression, and changes in behavior. If your loved one is displaying any of these symptoms or a combination of them, it is a good idea for them to visit their doctor.

How is a vitamin B-12 deficiency treated?

Your loved one’s doctor may recommend increasing the amount of vitamin B-12 in your loved one’s diet. This could mean eating more dairy foods and meats. In addition, they may recommend that your loved one take a vitamin B-12 supplement or a multivitamin that contains vitamin B-12.