A woman's body undergoes many changes during pregnancy that continue through to post childbirth. Low or high vitamin B12 levels are among the common issues, and either can be dangerous if left untreated. Read on to learn the causes, symptoms, and ways to counter them.
Causes of Abnormal Vitamin B12 Levels
What is vitamin B12? What does it do? It helps to produce red blood cells that circulate oxygen in your body. If your vitamin B12 level range is low, your system starts producing red blood cells that are larger than normal but don't carry oxygen well. Since the main sources of vitamin B12 are food items like eggs, meat and dairy, vegan and vegetarian women are especially at risk of being deficient. Non-vegan women who don't consume enough iron are also at risk. There's a chance you may be deficient if you've suffered from Crohn's disease too. Add to that the demands of breastfeeding, and you may fall victim to vitamin B12 deficiency. Infants who are fed solely on breast milk are at risk of developing B12 deficiency as well.
A much smaller number of women may have the opposite problem, which is too much vitamin B12. Known as Haemochromatosis, this condition can be caused by diseases like Cirrhosis and Hepatitis. Disease of the kidney is also linked to increased B12 levels. Cancer of the kidney, liver, breast, GI tract, and some blood cancers may cause an overproduction of vitamin B12 too. Your doctor can make a diagnosis with the help of blood tests.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms include weakness and tiredness, unrelated to physical exertion. Tummy troubles like constipation and diarrhoea may also occur more frequently. Rapid breathing, bleeding gums and pale skin are some other symptoms. If left untreated, B12 deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms such as paranoia, cognitive difficulties and hallucinations. Neurological problems may also develop.
If your B12 levels are high, you may feel tired and weak, and may suffer from joints pain. Weight loss and frequent urination are a couple of other symptoms. In either case, you need to get yourself checked, as both low and high levels can be signs of something more serious.
Instead of waiting to find yourself facing these easily preventable symptoms, reap the benefits of vitamin B12 by following these simple ways. Alter your diet to include more iron from fish, meat, eggs and dairy products, to get your B12 levels up. Soy milk is another source if you're lactose-intolerant, vegan or vegetarian. You can also take vitamin B12 supplements on the advice of your doctor. Women with digestive disorders, those with severe deficiency, and those with pernicious anaemia may need regular long-term B12 shots.
Women with elevated levels of B12 can have it reduced with chelation therapy, which involves taking medicines to reduce iron content; and phlebotomy, which is to have your blood regularly drawn. Don't let low or high levels of vitamin B12 cause problems for you and your child. Get healthy again with the right diet and treatment. Always consult your doctor before taking supplements for vitamin B12 deficiency or if you need to get rid of excess B12.
Now that you know what to watch for, you'll have little trouble staying in shape!