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Vitamin B12 deficiency gaining attention as serious medical issue

For decades, Boston patients suffering from a deficiency in the vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, may have seen their condition dismissed by much of the medical world as not nutritionally caused. Misdiagnoses of various maladies may have been made due to a patient's B12 problem, a situation that is now receiving dedicated attention from doctors and other healthcare professionals. This attention has led to more data being collected and reported regarding the issue.

Some 16 percent of the U.S. population, or 48 million people, suffer from not having enough B12 in their system, according to some recent reports. Other data indicates that the number was closer to 25 percent, and the Framingham Offspring Study said that almost 40 percent of its subjects from ages 26 to 83 had "low normal" amounts of the vitamin.

A lack of B12 is seen as a problem because at that low normal range, neurological symptoms may start. In fact, a deficiency in cobalamin has been shown to cause both neurological and psychiatric problems, but the issue was long passed over in medicine. More expensive to treat illnesses were instead favored by the healthcare community when patients came forward with such symptoms as anemia, shortness of breath and weakness. However, this common nutritional problem might receive greater focus as doctors treat their patients.

An unnoticed vitamin or other nutritional deficiency may lead doctors into a failure to timely diagnose the true nature of a patient's suffering, which could result in a worsened condition or death. If it can proven that an injury would have been entirely preventable had a physician noticed a nutritional deficiency in a standard blood test, a claim might be able to be filed in court to hold the physician responsible.

Source: Pharmacy Times, "Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Serious Consequences", Sally M. Pacholok, December 13, 2013

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