Your body depends on vitamins and minerals to perform a variety of metabolic activities. DNA synthesis and certain neurological functions require the presence of vitamin B-12, or cobalamin. Vitamin D helps your body regulate appropriate physiological levels of calcium and phosphorus. Your skin produces vitamin D-3, or cholecalciferol, by absorbing energy from the sunlight. Deficiencies in vitamins B-12 and D-3 can cause significant health effects, making it important for you to get enough of these nutrients from your diet or supplements.
Dietary Reference Intakes
Carefully monitor your intake of vitamins B-12 and D-3; you can do this using an online food journal. According to the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine, young children should receive 0.9 to 1.2 micrograms of vitamin B-12 each day. Adult men and women need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 daily. There are no specific recommended dietary intakes for vitamin D-3; rather, the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine classifies vitamins D-2 and D-3 together. Infants require 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day, while older children and adults need 15 micrograms. Adults over 70 should aim to receive 20 micrograms of vitamin D each day.
Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
Doctors diagnose vitamin B-12 deficiency after performing a blood test in which a patient's blood levels of vitamin B-12 are less than 200 pg/mL. The Office of Dietary Supplements reports that 1.5 to 15 percent of the population is deficient in vitamin B-12. Populations vulnerable to vitamin B-12 deficiency include older adults, people with gastrointestinal problems, vegetarians and people with anemia. Symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency include anemia, tingling or loss of feeling in the extremities, irritability, memory impairment, depression and hallucinations or delusions. Vitamin B-12 deficiency increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and neurological problems, making accurate detection and diagnosis important.
Vitamin D-3 Deficiency
Doctors perform a blood test for 25-hydroxy vitamin D, or 25(OH)D, to determine whether you have a vitamin D deficiency. According to dietitian Lisa Nelson of Wyoming, people with blood levels of 25(OH)D below 20 ng/dL are vitamin D deficient. Optimal levels of 25(OH)D are between 50 and 100 ng/dL. The elderly, infants who are exclusively breastfed, people with little exposure to the sun, obese individuals and people with inflammatory bowel disease are at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include bone and muscle weakness. The classic manifestation of vitamin D deficiency in children is rickets, in a child develops bowed legs and other abnormal skeletal structures. Adult symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include muscle weakness. Prolonged vitamin D deficiency puts you at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cancer, osteoporosis and certain autoimmune disorders.
Doctors treat deficiencies in vitamins B-12 and D-3 by supplementing your dietary vitamin consumption. Boost your vitamin D intake by drinking fortified milk, eating fish or eggs, taking cod liver oil supplements or increasing outdoor activities. Dietary sources of vitamin B-12 include liver, clams, fortified cereals, fish, beef and dairy products. Oral supplements for vitamin B-12 and vitamin D increase your levels of these nutrients, eliminating symptoms of deficiency. Some physicians also prescribe intramuscular injections of vitamin B-12. Appropriate doses to treat vitamin deficiencies vary by age, sex, weight and other factors. Discuss your condition with your doctor to find the best treatment for your situation.
- Lisa Nelson RD; Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms -- How Does Low Vitamin D Affect Your Heart?; Lisa Nelson; Oct. 2009
- Colorado State; Vitamin D (Calcitriol); R. Bowen; April 24, 2010
- Institute of Medicine; Dietary Reference Intakes; 2010
- "American Family Physician"; Vitamin B-12 Deficiency; Robert Oh; March 2003
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B12