When it comes to deficiencies, we usually think of anemia or some nutritional deficiencies. Deficiencies like Vitamin D3 deficiency and Vitamin B12 deficiency are often missed out or overlooked. Even more shocking is that many physicians are also not aware of the importance of doing the special tests for these deficiencies. At times, even when the physicians are aware of these tests of deficiencies, they just ignore prescribing the tests as they are expensive. It may also happen the other way round that the patients themselves may not do it after they learn that the tests are expensive. The patients are also not informed about the need for these special tests, what these vitamin deficiencies can cause, or what would be the consequences if one does not know the levels of Vitamin D3 and Vitamin B12 in their body.
It is a human tendency that we generally aim at thinking big or look for doing something great out of something. But, we do not pay attention to some small things which occur in our body or somethings we experience for the first time. We are so busy in our lives that we tend to overlook our bodily discomforts. Also, before the year 2000, many doctors did not even consider the possibility of Vitamin D deficiency. It later came into the limelight when the clinicians learned that its deficiency was so rampant. In comparison with Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 deficiency came into the picture quite early. There are a few foods that contain therapeutic doses of Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. However, it is not yet clear how efficiently they get absorbed in the gut. Hence, an introspection is essential in order to learn about this neglected deficiency in the body.
In a metro city like Mumbai, there are lakhs of individuals who are working in a corporate set-up. They have a mundane working schedule of eight to nine hours a day. They generally start their work between 9 am to 10 am and finish their office hours between 6 pm to 7 pm. With this work schedule, there is no scope of getting exposed to the early morning or setting sun. The offices are usually enclosed with tinted glasses and centralized air conditioners. Hence, they are constantly working in an artificial light without coming in direct contact with sunlight during the day. This makes one prone to Vitamin D deficiency. Also, many people are turning vegan nowadays. There are almost nil sources of Vitamin B12 in vegetarian foods. Also, gastrointestinal diseases have become quite rampant these days which further affect the Vitamin B12 absorption. Vitamin B12 can only be synthesized if some external source is available. Many individuals are unaware of these deficiencies, as they do not know the signs and symptoms of the deficiencies. So, when a patient visits the clinic with a set of complaints, such as joint pains, depression, memory weakness, easy tiredness, confusion, lethargy, children complaining of leg pains, and other complaints, one may need to perform these special tests. These symptoms are quite commonly mentioned by patients, but as they do not cause any significant harm to your body they are overlooked. These may lead to significant health consequences ahead. So, as it is rightly said that “A stitch in time saves nine”. One can prevent these symptoms from getting worse if these deficiencies are tapped and corrected on time.
To know more about these deficiencies and their causes, you need to be aware of the signs, symptoms, and the food sources which can be included in your daily diet in order correct the deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is also known as hypovitaminosis D. This sunshine vitamin as it is rightly called as a fat-soluble vitamin, as it needs fat as a catalyst in order to get absorbed in the gut. There are a few sources of vitamin D, such as cheese, soya beans, meat, foods fortified with vitamin D, oranges, and other vitamin D rich foods, which have some amount of Vitamin D. Following are the signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
Signs & Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency:
- Joints pains
- Frequent body ache
- Hyperpigmentation of skin
- Feeling low or depressed
- Profuse perspiration on scalp especially in children
- Muscle weakness
- Easy tiredness, fatigue
Vitamin B12 is also called as Cyanocobalamine. It is one of the eight water-soluble B vitamins that helps in regulating the nervous system and the formation of red blood cells. This vitamin gets absorbed through water and enters the bloodstream. It has a large structure, and it is the most complicated vitamin. The sources of this vitamin in vegan foods are only cheese and milk. All other sources of vitamin B12 are non-vegetarian sources, such as eggs, fish, liver, meat, red meat and shellfish. It is also available in some nutritional yeast products. Recently, it has been found that ice apple (tadgola) a fruit, also has a few traces of this vitamin. Hence, a strict vegan diet is at risk of its deficiency.
Signs & Symptoms Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency:
- Irritability, depression, and confusion
- Easy fatigue
- Tingling and numbness in the extremities
- Memory weakness
- Behavioral problems
- Feeling dizziness
- Recurrent headaches
- Pale skin
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
Severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to potential damage, particularly to the brain and nervous system. People suffering from pernicious anemia (an autoimmune disease) can also have this deficiency. These individuals lack a specific protein in the stomach which is responsible for the absorption of this vitamin. People who are alcoholic and diabetic may also lack this vitamin. Hence, it is very important for one to understand the significance of these neglected vitamins and study them in deep. Making people aware of its necessity is important so that they do not think how expensive the test is and voluntarily do the tests by keeping their health on priority.
Availability Of Vitamin Supplements:
Supplements are usually readily available in medical stores in the form of syrups, tablets, capsules, granules, and injections. One may opt for any of these forms of supplements as per their comfort or take them as prescribed by the physician.
How Are Supplements Prescribed?
Vitamin deficiencies are classified into very low, moderately low, and insufficient. Injections are usually prescribed when the levels are very low. Tablets or capsules are given when the vitamin levels are moderately or mildly low. Insufficient levels are usually prescribed granules or tablets infrequently in a month. Children and older individuals are prescribed syrups as they get easily absorbed in the gut. Vitamin D supplements and Vitamin B12 injections are always given once in a week. And, Vitamin B12 tablets are given on a daily basis most of the times.
Side-Effects And Toxicity Of Supplements
While on any treatment or medications, one should be aware of its relative toxicity and side-effects which it may cause and affect you after a prolonged use. This will keep no stone unturned during the treatment, and you would be well aware about the problems which may occur. It is important for one to remember that vitamin supplements should never be given continuously. A specific time and dose should be fixed, based on what type of deficiency you have. It should be later tapered down and then discontinued. Long-term use of the supplements can cause toxicity.
For an instance, Tablet Neurobion forte which is a commonly prescribed as a multivitamin may cause severe allergic reactions, such as mild diarrhea, dizziness, hives, difficulty in breathing, tightness in chest, swelling of mouth, face, lips, and tongue. You may need to see a specialist if these symptoms persist. Most of the times, they wane off without any medical help.
Vitamin deficiencies should not be overlooked or avoided as they may keep on increasing and further may lead to something big which might need a long-term treatment. Annual checkups are the best way to keep an eye on the status of your body and its functioning.
I hope this blog was an eye-opener for you and has cleared your doubts. If you have any more queries or you are suffering from any chronic disease, do feel free to contact us and get in touch with Dr. Rajesh Shah’s associate doctors at Life Force Homeopathy. Your feedback is also important for us hence if you have liked this blog, do let us know your feedback in the section below. You may write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at +91-22-66888888.
-Written by Dr. Kanchan, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah
Are you aware that you may also be suffering from Vitamin B12 & Vitamin D3 deficiency?