Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause osteoarthritis

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Neeraj Adkar, an orthopedist with the Saishree Hospital, said that vitamin B12 deficiency leads to pernicious anaemia, with knee pain.

PUNE: A 30-year-old woman from the city had severe pain in her lower back, ribs, heels and joints. After consulting with a physician and taking the prescribed medicines, no improvement was seen in her health. Later, the doctor asked her to carry out some tests such as blood, X-ray and specifically Vitamin B12.

After further investigations, it was found that her Vitamin B12 level was below 190 ng/L (nanograms per litre). The normal level of B12 in the blood should be between 190 to 900 ng/L. The drop in Vitamin B12 was a major cause for her health-related issues, suggested doctors.

Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Neeraj Adkar, an orthopedist with the Saishree Hospital, said that vitamin B12 deficiency leads to pernicious anaemia, with knee pain.

“Vitamin B12 is one of the essential vitamins for the human body. It comes under the category of water-soluble vitamins. Vitamin B12 is not synthesised by enzymes present in our body or plants by its own, while some bacteria and archaea have these particular enzymes to produce this vitamin. Hence, it is one of the major reasons for the lack of this vitamin.” 

“This water-soluble vitamin plays a vital role in the formation of Red Blood Cells (RBC), DNA and nerves. An average adult should get 2.4 micrograms of Vitamin B12 per day. Vitamin B12 is responsible for various functions, therefore, is provided to the body through our daily diet,” said Dr Adkar.

Expressing similar views, Dr Pradyumna Pai Raiturkar, an orthopedist from the city, said the lack of Vitamin B12 causes knee pain. 

“Moreover, a lack of this vitamin causes headache, knee pain, fatigue, depression, breathlessness, short term memory loss, mood swings, walking and balancing difficulties, arms and legs get numbed,” said Dr Pai Raiturkar.

He said Vitamin B12 acts as a cartilage cushion to cover the bones, while lack of B12 will damage this cushion and can give rise to ‘osteoarthritis’. In osteoarthritis, bones rub against each other, increasing nerve pressure. 

“Vitamin B12 is crucial as it encourages the bone marrow to produce a number of RBC’s, which helps to reduce the pain. Most of the times, the symptoms can be confused with something else.” 

- Common symptoms: Inflammation in muscles, joints pain, muscle stiffness, difficulty in thinking or reasoning, strange sensations in hands and legs, numbness.
- Who is more at risk: Vegetarians or vegans, the patients, who have undergone weight loss surgery; those who consume less water, people above the age of 50 are at high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Prevention: Early detection and treatment are important, vegetarians should include bread, cereals, or other grains fortified with vitamin B12 in their daily diet, which will help to compensate the daily required amount of B12. Consumption of water more than 2.5L every day can prevent deficiency of B12 in the body. Also, regular and daily exercise is a must.
- Cure: Injections and supplements of high-doses are used to cure Vitamin B12 deficiency. For mild deficiency, a standard multivitamin is used to treat. Those above 50 years of age are recommended to have supplements to fulfil the need for vitamin B12.

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