Supplements: How cyanocobalamin addresses a vitamin B12 deficiency

Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency

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The NHS pointed out that symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency “usually develops gradually”. If the body doesn’t obtain this vital nutrient, then red blood cells become deformed. Over time, you will feel the effects. For instance, fatigue – a feeling of extreme tiredness that isn’t relieved by a good night’s sleep – can occur. Other possible indications of a vitamin B12 deficiency can include lethargy, breathlessness, feeling faint, headaches, pale skin and heart palpitations.

Left untreated, irritability, depression, and a decline in mental abilities can occur.

Other warning signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency can include:

  • Tinnitus
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A pale yellow tinge to the skin
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Pins and needles
  • Disturbed vision

A simple blood test can confirm whether your body is lacking vitamin B12.

Even if you eat a really healthy diet you could still be at risk of this deficiency.

This is because of a common acquired autoimmune condition called pernicious anaemia.

Pernicious anaemia is a malabsorption issue, meaning no matter how much foods you eat that contain vitamin B12, the body will not hold onto the nutrient.

Cyanocobalamin is a manufactured version of vitamin B12 that is used to treat and prevent vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia.

These supplements are available on prescription, from pharmacies, supermarkets and health food shops.

Cyanocobalamin supplements come in different strengths from 10mcg to 1,000mcg.

Speaking to a pharmacist or your doctor will inform you of the best dosage for you.

Usually, a diet-related deficiency can be corrected by taking between 50mcg to 150mcg of cyanocobalamin supplements daily.

The NHS added that a vitamin B12 deficiency not caused by your diet might benefit from one to two 1,000mcg cyanocobalamin supplements daily.

These tablets are taken whole with a glass of water; you’re instructed by the NHS not to chew or break them.

“It’s usually best to take the tablets on an empty stomach,” added the NHS.

This means a cyanocobalamin supplement is best taken at least two hours after a meal or snack, and at least 30 minutes before you eat again.

“For cyanocobalamin supplements that you buy, follow the instructions that come in the packet,” the NHS said.

The daily supplement boosts vitamin B12 levels, but it may take a few weeks to start experiencing improved symptoms.

Most adults are safe to take cyanocobalamin, but it’s not suitable if you have an allergy to cobalt.

It’s advisable to keep an eye on your vitamin B12 levels by having regular blood tests.

People who have the autoimmune condition pernicious anaemia might have to take the supplements for the rest of their lives.

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