Vitamin B12 deficiency doesn’t just trigger visible changes in the body but can also cause neuropsychiatric issues. One such sign of low B12 levels is delirium.
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps in maintaining the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and aids in creating DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps to avoid a form of anemia – low red blood cell count – known as megaloblastic anemia that causes people to feel weak and tired. Numerous symptoms can, hence, appear as a result of B12 deficiency.
Is There a Link Between Psychiatric Issues and B12 Deficiency?
A less well-known series of symptoms linked to B12 deficiency are neuropsychiatric issues. The ‘neuropsychiatry’ term refers to the medical conditions that run on both the neurology and psychiatry spectrum.
Studies propose that the neuropsychiatric symptoms linked to B12 deficiency may be simultaneous or precede the other manifestations. A case report published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition associates delirium with low vitamin B12 levels.
Delirium is a severe disturbance in mental abilities that reduces awareness of the environment and confused thinking. The reported case is a clinical instance of delirium because of B12 deficiency in a vegetarian female patient.
“The finding underlines the importance of conducting a complete laboratory test panel for delirium, including the blood levels of vitamin B12,” the researchers concluded.
As per the researchers that wrote the paper case, people adhering to a strict vegetarian or vegan diet are allegedly more prone to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency than meat-eaters. Reportedly, this happens because B12 is found in numerous animal-derived foods – according to the National Institutes of Health, plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 unless they are fortified.
The institute put together a list of foods that contain the vitamin, including beef liver and clams, which are allegedly the best sources. Also, products like fish, meat, poultry, milk and other dairy products, eggs, some breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts, and some other products are fortified with B12.
How to Treat Vitamin B12 Deficiency
As we already mentioned, vitamin B12 is responsible for delivering your body an energy boost, supporting the formation and correct functioning of your red blood cells, and supporting the health of your heart and cardiovascular system.
Vitamin B12 is also a pillar of the central nervous system. If you lack it, you are more prone to suffer from depression and anxiety. When that happens, it is crucial to either adjust your diet or take some multivitamin supplements to treat this rather common deficiency, instead of taking antidepressants to help you control your ‘blues.’
It is vital to address the root of the issue, rather than just masking the symptoms. Otherwise stated, it is essential to balance out your body’s vitamin B12 levels, and the symptoms may disappear as soon as that happens.
The treatment for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anemia depends on what is causing the issue. The patient in the case study was, for instance, treated with supplements. As per the NHS, if your B12 deficiency is caused by a lack of the vitamin in your diet, you may need to take vitamin B12 tablets between meals.