I seem to be surrounded by women suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency. Not kidding – mom, sister, friends, acquaintances, obscure aunts – you name them. It has unsettled me enough to want to get a blood test done of my own (I am certain I will be deficient, just know it!) So will a lot of you, by the way. It’s more common than we think.
The ailment was unknown to me till just about a year ago. I mean I sort of knew about B12 in a vaguesh, distant sort of way, but not more than that.
Then, all of a sudden almost every woman around me seemed to have only one problem – a B12 deficiency. This thing was like an epidemic, like it was airborne or something. I kid you not. Even friends I had not met in ages (and frankly even forgotten the existence of before they sent me chirpy messages on Facebook and I felt pressured to accept) seemed to have only one complaint (ok not only one, there’s always the maid crisis that binds us all, here in India – when I say us I mean people like us – well off, affluent enough to afford help) but apart from that one chronic problem, there was B12. Someone I know now has a neurological disorder because her B12 deficiency went undetected for too long. Another close friend had to recently take B12 injections because she was so low in it that she could not get out of bed without a yelp.Yet another friend was so depressed I had to talk her off the ledge and turned out that she too had a deficiency. She’s MUCH better now after the suppliments.
As about sis, she’s been plagued with migraines, aches, general weakness and of course depression for, well I can’t even remember for how long. Long enough to be worried I guess. I’ve been telling her to get her B12 checked. I freely impart this newly acquired knowledge to anyone who complains of anything and cares to listen (seriously – B12 has also been linked to heart trouble, cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke – the works) But sis being sis and working like a zombie from morning to almost morning was not in a mood to be lectured, which by the way I didn’t do, but that’s what my unsolicited advice felt like to her. Also, she usually calls me from the car on her way back home from work when she’s stuck in traffic and her daughter is waiting at home. She’s not at her best, understandably, at this time, so anything anyone says that even remotely resembles a sermon, she rejects outright, usually with sentences like “you don’t know how tired I am. I don’t have the time to go to the doc”.
Anyway, long story short, after a couple of fainting episodes, rapid pulse, rushing to the Emergency at the hospital etc, she sort of got the point about the usefulness of doctors in life. She got diagnosed with high blood pressure and was being treated for that but her pains just would not go. I gently brought up the point of B12 again, to little avail. Most physicians seem to miss this rather obvious possible cause for body aches and other ailments. So her B12 kept dipping and headaches kept getting worse (there’s also migraine in the family, so that helps!!) and her blood pressure kept rising due to the headaches. The doc kept upping her medicine which gave her palpitations. Agh. I, of course, never let go of my rant, but who listens to siblings who are not doctors?
So now it’s finally come up. She went for the test (don’t ask) and guess what? Her B12 is so low that the doctor fell of his chair and wondered how she’s up and about. When she called me I wanted to say soooooo much, but of course I didn’t (i knew that was not the time).
Now my mum has been diagnosed with the same thing and has to take nasal sprays to get the stuff into her blood stream quickly. She has a vitamin d3 deficiency too,which is the other point I want to make. This too is low in a lot of people and somehow never gets discovered. My older daughter has it too and is on supplements.
So if you have a chronic, inexplicable condition and can’t quite understand why you are feeling this way, you need a vitamin B12 and D3 test. If you suggest this to a doc he/she’ll give you the are-you-the-doc-or-I look, but never mind that. Do the test anyway if you feel you should. I am going to do it this week.