(Specialist Orthopaedic Surgeon)

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12: A tonic for your nerves.

Vitamin B12 (also called Cobalamin) is a water soluble vitamin, essential for proper functioning of our nervous system and formation of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in Indian population especially people on strictly vegetarian diet.

In 2012 Times of India reported that upto 80% Indian population may be suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency.

What causes it’s deficiency?

Vitamin B12 is found in non-vegetarian food (meat, eggs, fish), milk and dairy products. As because it’s found in animal source only, vegetarians are especially prone to it’s deficiency. Over cooking of food can also lead to loss of this vitamin.

Sometimes there may be defect in absorption of this vitamin from our stomach. This can also lead to it’s deficiency.

Effects of vitamin B12 deficiency:

Vitamin B12 is crucial to the normal function of the brain and the nervous system. It is also involved in the formation of red blood cells and helps to create and regulate DNA.

The metabolism of every cell in the body depends on vitamin B12, as it plays a part in the synthesis of fatty acids and energy production. Vitamin B12 enables the release of energy by helping the human body absorb folic acid.

Symptoms of deficiency can be very vague and often misdiagnosed as other disease. Common symptoms are fatigue, skin pigmentation, memory loss, tingling in the limbs, cramps, giddiness, palpitations, mouth ulcers and loss of energy.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a severe form of anemia called Pernicious anemia.Deficiency of Vitamin D has been linked with deficiency of vitamin B12


It can be diagnosed by testing B12 level in blood. However in some cases it may be within normal range.Serum homocysteine and methylmalonic acid levels are considered more reliable indicators of B12 deficiency than the concentration of B12 in blood. The levels of these substances are high in B12 deficiency and can be helpful if the diagnosis is unclear.


Treatment is aimed at correcting the vitamin B12 levels in the body. Vitamin B12 supplements are available in several forms. B12 is safe to be given in high doses under medical supervision.