Males should be aware of the warning signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency in men and take steps to correct the problem right away. Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in the production of red blood cells, DNA and nerves. If you are a male and your body does not get enough vitamin B12, you could develop neurological problems and blood diseases.
As dire as the outcome could be, you can easily prevent this deficiency by getting your daily dose. Adult men require 2.4 micrograms of B12 each day and, if you’re over 50, the recommended dietary allowance is as much as 100 to 400 micrograms. Your ability to absorb B12 decreases as you get older, and so you need to increase your intake accordingly.
As well, some people have trouble absorbing vitamin B12, which means, even though you are consuming the amount you need, you should watch for the signs of a deficiency in case you are one of those people who have absorption problems.
What are the Causes of This Deficiency?
There are other factors besides age that increase the risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency:
- If you’re a vegetarian, your diet makes you a likely candidate for a deficiency as it excludes one of the richest sources of B12—meat.
- Stomach stapling and other similar surgical weight-loss procedures make it harder for your body to extract B12 from the foods you consume.
- Celiac or Crohn’s disease interferes with vitamin absorption, and so those who are diagnosed with this condition may not be getting sufficient doses of B12.
- The use of heartburn drugs poses a similar problem, as this type of medication hampers the production of the acids needed to absorb vitamin B12.
- You may be genetically predisposed with the difficulty of absorbing this vitamin through your digestive system.
What are the Warning Signs?
There’s a myriad of symptoms associated with a vitamin B12 deficiency. Some develop and appear slowly, while others manifest themselves quickly.
- Among the initial symptoms are: a paler-than-usual or yellow complexion, fatigue or exhaustion, shortness of breath coupled with rapid heartbeat and trouble walking—example, staggering and loss of balance.
- Signs that you are already experiencing some form of nerve failure include a pins-and-needles sensation and numbness in the arms or legs, weakened reflexes and impaired pain or touch perception.
Many of these symptoms accompany other medical conditions, and so it is best to visit your physician and undergo a physical exam. The diagnosis of a B12 deficiency is often confirmed by a blood test.
Should You Be Alarmed if the Condition Progresses?
Without early detection, the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency may escalate to neurological-related problems such as confusion or difficulty thinking and reasoning, paranoia or hallucinations, memory loss and deep depression. Some men also lose their sense of smell, taste and hearing; other reports link B12 deficiency to anemia, and heart and blood diseases.
Mild deficiencies can be addressed by increasing your intake of the vitamin through your diet or by taking vitamin B complex supplements or vitamin B12 supplements. Men who have already developed serious conditions, however, are likely to be prescribed weekly vitamin B12 shots, which circumvent the need to absorb the vitamin through the digestive system.
What are the Best Food Sources of B12?
To stay out of B12 trouble, make room for the following in your diet: meat, eggs, poultry and dairy products. Seafood is also packed with B12, and so you should feast on steamed oysters and clams, mussels and salted mackerels.
If you’re a vegetarian, taking multivitamin supplements that contain at least six micrograms of vitamin B12 daily can do the trick. Breads and cereals fortified with B12 also help.
Men become more vulnerable to a vitamin B12 deficiency as they approach age 50, and so, if you are that age or near it, make sure you get your daily dose of B12 to keep your body in tip-top shape.
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