Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for the health of your red blood cells and nerve cells. It also helps make DNA and binds to the protein you get from food. Most people get vitamin B12 from the foods they eat or through supplementation. According to the Mayo Clinic website, vitamin B12 deficiency is rare. However, it can occur due to a number of factors.
When the body destroys cells in the stomach that help absorb vitamin B12 and impairs the body’s ability to utilize vitamin B12 from the gastrointestinal tract, it results in a vitamin B12 deficiency known as pernicious anemia. Surgery that removes your lower intestine or part of your stomach can also cause a deficiency. Crohn’s or celiac disease, both of which affect how the body digests food, can cause vitamin B12 deficiency, as can a diet lacking in vitamin B12.
Foot Problems and B12
Left untreated, a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to symptoms such as poor muscle coordination and balance in all parts of the body, including your feet. It can also cause peripheral neuropathy, the condition characterized by twitching, tingling or numbness in the toes and fingers. Look for non-foot symptoms that might hint at a low-B12 connection. These include pale skin, weight loss, constipation or diarrhea, bleeding gums, sore, red tongue; weakness or tiredness, nausea and lightheadedness. Impaired mental clarity, ringing in the ears and dementia can also spring from low B12.
Your doctor can perform a physical examination and a series of tests that include a complete blood count (CBC) test to check red blood cell count and a blood test to check vitamin B12 levels. He may also check your folic acid levels because the deficiency symptoms are similar. In addition, people who are vitamin B12 deficient tend to also be deficient in folic acid. Your homocysteine and methymalonic, or MMA, levels may also be checked because high levels of these substances indicate low vitamin B12 levels.
Treatment usually involves injections of 100 to 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12. You must take a shot every day for a week, then once a week for one month, and once every month for the rest of your life. Vitamin B12 pills are a less expensive and easier option if your doctor determines they will be as effective.
Healthy adults should get 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day; 2.6 to 2.8 mcg for pregnant or lactating teens and women. A healthy diet that includes plenty of meat, eggs, milk and cheese can provide all the vitamin B12 you need. Beef liver and clams are the best sources, as are poultry and fish. Some breakfast cereals are also vitamin B12-fortified. Leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits are good sources of folic acid, which can help keep vitamin B12 levels at a healthy level. For persistent muscle twitching in your feet, see a physician.
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.