Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Edema

Barefoot on the water
Edema commonly causes swelling of your feet and ankles. (Image: Leedsichthys/iStock/Getty Images)

Most people obtain sufficient amounts of most nutrients through a varied diet although a vitamin B12 deficiency is common, even among people in the U.S., according to Harvard Medical School. This type of vitamin deficiency can cause numerous symptoms, although edema is not among them. Edema may occur for a variety of reasons and may require medical attention. Seek medical advice before attempting to treat any medical condition with vitamin therapy.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in supporting the health and function of your blood cells, nerves and brain. The recommended amount of vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg per day for most adults, although pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers require between 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg per day. Like many older individuals, you may absorb less vitamin B12 from your diet as you age. MedlinePlus advises people over the age of 50 to consume a B12 supplement or eat foods fortified with this vitamin.

Deficiency

Certain medical disorders may affect your ability to absorb adequate amounts of vitamin B12. Common conditions that may cause a deficiency include tuberculosis, AIDS, pernicious anemia, long-term pancreatitis, tropical sprue, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and cystic fibrosis. Strict vegan and vegetarian diets can increase your risk of a deficiency. Advancing age, chronic alcohol abuse, gastritis and some medications, such as HW blockers and proton pump inhibitors, may reduce vitamin B12 absorption. Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include tingling sensations in your hands and feet, substantial weight loss, tiredness, loss of appetite, depression, confusion, alternating constipation and diarrhea, altered sense of taste, rapid heart rate and yellow skin. You are unlikely to experience edema as a symptom of a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Edema

Edema occurs when excess fluid accumulates in your circulatory system and in the spaces between your cells. Swelling in your feet, ankles and lower legs indicates the presence of edema, a symptoms that stems from various causes. In addition to swelling, you may experience other symptoms that commonly accompany edema, including shortness of breath, muscle aches, abdominal bloating and facial puffiness. Sitting or standing for too long, as well as eating too much salt, can cause edema. Other possible causes of edema include high or low blood pressure, thyroid disease, food allergies, lymphedema and hormonal changes. Although a vitamin B12 deficiency is unlikely to cause edema, the University of Maryland Medical Center advises reducing the symptoms of edema by consuming a nutritious diet that includes foods that contain this vitamin, such as whole grains, spinach and kale.

Precautions

Tell your doctor about edema that fails to respond to a reduction in salt consumption or increased activity. Recurrent or prolonged edema may require medical testing to determine the underlying cause of this condition.

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