Vitamin B12 is critical for your body’s ability to provide oxygen-rich blood to your organs and tissues. This nutrient also plays a role in managing levels of the amino acid homocysteine. Large amounts of homocysteine in your body can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke and the formation of dangerous blood clots. Vitamin B12 deficiency is a common condition that tends to effect women more often than men. The deficiency can cause symptoms such as fatigue, poor wound healing and cognitive problems. All of these problems occur as a result of decreased available oxygen and over time, can worsen.
A vitamin B12 deficiency is usually easy to treat by supplementation of the vitamin, through injections or over the counter pills. Many people live with a subclinical level of a vitamin B12 deficiency that causes less adverse symptoms but can be devastating to your health if left untreated. Without the protective effects of vitamin B12, your neurological system can be at risk for permanent damage. Damage to the nerves is often irreversible, although some recovery can occur if the condition is treated early.
A vitamin B12 deficiency that is left untreated can lead to damage to the nerve cells, leading to feelings of tingling or numbness in your extremities. Additionally, a deficiency can cause impairment in your motor functioning, including your ability to walk. Untreated vitamin B12 deficiency can affect your mood, causing depression and a general poor mood. Neurological damage can also lead to continued and permanent cognitive decline and dementia. This is why the elderly, who are at particular risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency, often experience cognitive problems. Individuals who follow a vegetarian diet and women who are pregnant are at high risk for developing a vitamin B12 deficiency. Women who are pregnant should be tested for this condition, because it can adversely effect the pregnancy.
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