Vitamin B12 with an ostomy

Eating and drinking

Hear from Sarah our Clinical Advisor

From A Bigger Life

Vitamin B12 is a topic that is coming up more often.

So why are we starting to talk about it now?

Some people who have an ileostomy and a urostomy may experience a decrease in their levels of Vitamin B12. This is because the part of the small intestine that absorbs the vitamin B12 may be removed during your surgery.

People with short bowel or active Crohns disease are also at risk of this deficiency if there has been damage to the last part of your small bowel, that’s responsible for absorbing your minerals and vitamins to have a healthy and active life.

The main source of Vitamin B12 is from:

1. Meat
2. Fish
3. Eggs
4. Milk

Another group of people that are at risk of having a vitamin B12 deficiency is those who follow a vegan diet, so you should also be aware of this deficiency.

The elderly are also a group who could be at risk, as some people’s ability to absorb the vitamin decrease with age as well.

It probably isn’t something you automatically think is a problem for you, and the reason for that is your liver stores vitamin B12 for a number of years, but it is important to remember it is a potential problem in 2-3 years after your initially surgery.

So what symptoms should you be looking out for?

1. Unexplained fatigue
2. Feeling tired and lethargic
3. Breathless
4 Feeling faint
5. Having an ongoing headache
6. Loss of appetite
7. Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet

If you think you are experiencing some of these problems and you fit into any of these categories, it’s important to go and talk to your GP, the GP will most likely want to do some bloods to find out if there is a problem and then you will be able to be treated properly.

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