Laxatives: A Hidden Cause Of B12 Deficiency?

can laxatives cause b12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that helps the body make red blood cells and DNA. It is found in animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs, as well as fortified foods like cereals and nutritional yeast. While B12 deficiency is rare, it can be caused by a lack of B12 in the diet or impaired absorption due to digestive issues, certain medications, or alcohol use. Some laxatives, such as Milk of Magnesia, contain magnesium, which can cause loose stools, diarrhoea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. However, there is little research to suggest that magnesium supplements or other laxatives directly cause vitamin B12 deficiency.


Vitamin B12 deficiency is rare, as the body can store several years' worth

Vitamin B12 deficiency is indeed rare, as the human body can store several years' worth—up to five years' worth in the liver, to be precise. However, a vitamin B12 deficiency can occur if your diet doesn't help maintain its levels in your body. Vitamin B12 is important for making red blood cells, nerves, and DNA, and it is naturally found in animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs.

Since the body cannot produce vitamin B12 on its own, it must be obtained from animal-based foods or supplements. The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms, and this amount varies for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as for children and infants.

A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to physical, neurological, and psychological problems. Physical symptoms include feeling very tired or weak, experiencing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, loss of appetite, and having a sore mouth or tongue. Neurological symptoms can include numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, cognitive difficulties, and problems with walking or speaking. Psychological symptoms can manifest as changes in behaviour, mood, and mental well-being, including depression and memory loss.

Certain factors can increase the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. These include age, with older adults being more susceptible; digestive system disorders such as Crohn's disease and celiac disease; a vegan or vegetarian diet that does not include sufficient fortified foods or supplements; and the use of certain medications like metformin and proton pump inhibitors, which interfere with absorption.

If you suspect a vitamin B12 deficiency, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. A blood test can confirm the diagnosis, and treatment options include oral medication, intramuscular injections, nasal gel, or nasal spray.

Laxatives: Addictive or Not?

You may want to see also


Vitamin B12 is found in animal products and fortified foods

Vitamin B12 is found in animal products, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. It is also found in fortified foods.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is important for the maintenance of the nervous system and the formation of red blood cells. It is not produced by the body, so it must be obtained from animal-based foods, supplements, or fortified foods.

Animal sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Poultry

Fortified foods that contain vitamin B12 include:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Plant-based milk

The crystalline form of vitamin B12, found in fortified foods and supplements, is easier for the body to absorb than the protein-bound form found in animal products.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is fairly common, and can lead to anemia and neuropsychiatric symptoms. Those at risk of deficiency include vegans, vegetarians, older adults, and those with certain medical conditions or taking certain medications.


Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause nerve damage

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin with a crucial role in the healthy functioning of nerve tissue. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to nerve damage, which may be permanent if treatment is not started within 6 months of the onset of symptoms.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the production of myelin, a substance that shields nerves and helps them transmit sensations. Without sufficient myelin, nerves are more prone to damage. This nerve damage can lead to a range of problems, including:

  • Tingling, numbness, or a "pins and needles" sensation in the hands and feet.
  • Movement problems, such as difficulty walking.
  • Muscle weakness and diminished reflexes.
  • Problems with balance.
  • Cognitive impairment, including difficulty thinking, reasoning, and memory loss.
  • Mental health issues, such as depression, delusions, and behavioural changes.

In severe cases, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause neuropsychiatric disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome and anxiety. It has also been linked to an increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.

The risk of nerve damage due to vitamin B12 deficiency is higher in older individuals, as the body may not absorb B12 as easily with age. Other factors that can contribute to vitamin B12 deficiency include dietary factors, such as a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, and certain health conditions like Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and pernicious anemia.

Laxatives: Safe for Breastfeeding?

You may want to see also


Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to mental health issues

Vitamin B12 is a crucial component in the formation of red blood cells, and a deficiency can lead to a range of mental health issues. A lack of vitamin B12 can cause an oxygen transport problem in the blood known as pernicious anaemia, which may manifest as mood swings, paranoia, irritability, confusion, dementia, and hallucinations.

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, so those following a vegan or vegetarian diet may be at risk of a deficiency. Weight loss surgery, conditions like Crohn's or Celiac disease, certain medications, and age can also impact the body's ability to absorb vitamin B12.

A vitamin B12 deficiency can have a significant impact on mental health. It has been linked to depression, with research suggesting that a decrease in vitamin B12 serum correlates with an increase in depression. Additionally, vitamin B12 can influence serotonin and dopamine production when combined with folate supplements, and serotonin is a chemical that helps regulate mood. Low serotonin levels have been associated with depression.

Other mental health issues that may arise from a vitamin B12 deficiency include memory loss, behavioural changes, confusion, and cognitive impairment. In severe cases, a deficiency can lead to deep depression, paranoia, delusions, incontinence, loss of taste and smell, and more.

It is important to note that vitamin B12 deficiency is preventable and treatable. Those at risk can include vitamin B12-fortified foods or supplements in their diet. Treatment for a deficiency typically involves weekly shots or daily high-dose pills, depending on the severity.

Pregnancy and Laxatives: What's Safe?

You may want to see also


Vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated with medication

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that helps make DNA and red blood cells. While the body can store it for up to five years, a vitamin B12 deficiency can occur if your diet doesn't help maintain its levels. This can lead to symptoms such as weakness, tiredness, heart palpitations, constipation, nerve problems, and mental issues like depression.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can often be treated with medication. If you have pernicious anaemia or have trouble absorbing vitamin B12, you may need to start with vitamin B12 shots. You may also need to take high doses of a supplement by mouth or get it nasally. For those with neurological symptoms, such as numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, injections of vitamin B12 every two months may be recommended.

The most common treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency is injections of hydroxocobalamin, which stays in the body longer than an alternative called cyanocobalamin. Initially, these injections are given every other day for two weeks or until symptoms improve. After this, if the deficiency is caused by a lack of vitamin B12 in the diet, daily vitamin B12 tablets may be advised. Alternatively, injections twice a year may be sufficient.

For those who find it challenging to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets, such as those on a vegan or vegetarian diet, vitamin B12 tablets may be needed for life. Additionally, older adults with a vitamin B12 deficiency will likely need to take a daily B12 supplement or a multivitamin containing B12. It is important to consult with a doctor before starting any supplement or medication to ensure it is safe and appropriate for your needs.

Smooth Move: Safe or Not?

You may want to see also

Frequently asked questions

Laxatives can be a cause of vitamin B12 deficiency, but they are not the main cause. The main cause is a lack of B12-rich foods in your diet, such as fish and shellfish, organ meats, and eggs.

The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, headaches, depression, pale or yellow skin, mental impairment, and pain and inflammation in the mouth and tongue.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, with up to 20% of people over 60 in the US and UK being deficient.

You can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by consuming foods and drinks that contain vitamin B12, such as animal food products (red meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products) and fortified foods (certain breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, plant milk, and certain bread).

Written by
Reviewed by
Share this post
Did this article help you?

Leave a comment