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Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency and How to Fix It

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Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin. It is one of eight vitamins that form vitamin B-complex.

Nowadays, vitamin B12 deficiency isn’t a bizarre occurrence. Actually, it is far more common than most health care practitioners and the general public realize.

According to a 2009 report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin B12 deficiency and depletion are common in wealthier countries, particularly among the elderly, and are most prevalent in poorer populations around the world.

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In fact, the report states that approximately 6 percent of people age 60 or older in the United Kingdom and the United States are vitamin B12 deficient.

Why is vitamin B12 important?

Vitamin B12 is vital for the formation of red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. It is also needed for the proper functioning and health of nerve tissue, as it is involved in producing the protective myelin sheath that covers the nerves and conducts nerve impulses.

It works together with folate in the metabolism of cells, especially affecting DNA synthesis and fatty acid and amino acid metabolism.

This particular B vitamin also helps our bodies absorb folic acid, which facilitates the release of energy.

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Since your body doesn’t make vitamin B12, it is important to get it from food sources (especially animal-based foods) or supplements on a regular basis. Always consult your doctor before starting any supplement regimen.

How much vitamin B12 do I need?

vitamin B12 daily requirement

According to the National Institutes of Health, people in different age groups and expecting or new mothers need different amounts of vitamin B12 on a daily basis.

What causes vitamin B12 deficiency?

A deficiency of this important vitamin can occur due to a diet that contains very little vitamin B12. People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet often lack this vitamin, because it is commonly found in animal products.

Another common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is pernicious anemia.

It is an autoimmune disorder that occurs due to loss of stomach cells that make intrinsic factor, a protein which helps the body absorb vitamin B12 in the intestine. This leads to low vitamin B12 in the body.

Who is at a higher risk?

  • People age 50 or older
  • People who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet
  • Infants who are born to vegan mothers and exclusively breastfed
  • People suffering from diseases that affect digestion, such as celiac and Crohn’s disease
  • People who have had gastrointestinal surgery
  • People who are malnutritioned
  • People who are chronic alcoholics.

 

signs of vitamin B12 deficiency

Here are the top 10 signs of vitamin B12 deficiency.

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1. Fatigue and Low Energy

This vitamin plays a prominent role in energy metabolism, hence its deficiency has a direct impact on your energy and endurance levels.

Vitamin B12 enhances your body’s ability to make DNA for new cells to provide energy. It is also needed to form healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen to the whole body. Without proper oxygen levels, you feel tired and lethargic.

Plus, B12 is needed to turn the food you eat into energy to power your metabolism. Low metabolism prevents you from feeling your best and performing at your highest energy level.

2. Numbness and Tingling Sensations

Vitamin B12 plays a key role in keeping your nervous system healthy. Thus, neurological signs like numbness or a tingling sensation in the hands and feet can indicate its deficiency.

Vitamin B12 helps in the manufacturing of nerves and, moreover, it has a key role in helping oxygen reach different parts of the body. Poor oxygen supply is one of the main causes of numbness and tingling sensations.

Its deficiency can also cause balance problems.

A 1991 study published in Medicine (Baltimore) highlights the effect of cobalamin deficiency in the nervous system, which causes loss of cutaneous sensation, muscle weakness, diminished or hyperactive reflexes, spasticity and urinary or fecal incontinence, to name a few.

3. Low Blood Pressure

Deficiencies of vitamin B12 and folic acid can cause anemia, which can lead to low blood pressure, also known as hypotension.

Vitamin B12 helps your body produce red blood cells so that adequate oxygen reaches each and every part of your body, including the heart.

A 2012 study published in the Texas Heart Institute Journal reports that vitamin B12 deficiency is well known among neurologists but is often overlooked by cardiologists when treating low blood pressure.

If you suffer from low blood pressure, opt for a B12 test. Even moderate forms of low blood pressure can cause shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness, fainting and risk of injury from falls.

4. Skin Lesions

Low vitamin B12 can also cause skin lesions and hair changes.

A 2008 study published in Canadian Family Physicians reports that vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to skin lesions.

Unexplained and non-resolving skin lesions can signal vitamin B12 deficiency, hence you need to visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Along with skin lesions, its deficiency can cause hyperpigmentation of the skin, which leads to uneven skin color and dark patches on the skin.

5. Depression

This particular B vitamin is also essential for mental health. Its role in forming red blood cells in turn helps support a healthy nervous system.

Plus, it helps lower the level of homocysteine, a by product of protein metabolism. A high level of homocysteine in the body can lead to depression.

This is why it is important to consider the possibility of B12 deficiency, especially among the elderly suffering from depression, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry emphasis upon.

In fact, a 2013 study published in the Open Neurology Journal shed light on the importance of vitamin B12 supplementation in the treatment of major depressive disorder.

The study found that people with depression experienced significant improvement in symptoms when treated with vitamin B12 supplementation as well as antidepressants.

Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency and How to Fix It was last modified: May 24th, 2016 by Top10HomeRemedies
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13 thoughts on “Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency and How to Fix It”

  1. I am vegetarian and am anaemic, I have heavy periods, suffer from anxiety and depression, and am on meds for under active thyroid, I am ALWAYS worn out! Maybe this is due to my low iron and/or b 12 deficiency. Can I take this with ferrous fumerate and other regular meds I am taking? I am 42,also asthmatic! thanks.

    1. My goodness Emmaline. Yu must a twin. I have exactly all the symptoms you do, u der active thyroid, on mess for depression and am vegetarian and on iron deficient and am 47 looking after 2 boys under 8 and working full time I am always tired and 8 hrs just don’t seem to be enough.

      Have you been diagnosed to have low B12. What did your doctor say. Thank you

  2. Ever considered wheatgrass? Great source of b vitamins amongst many other beneficial vits and minerals. Good book is the wheatgrass book by Ann Wigmore. Best drunk fresh far better than powdered variety. Easily grown from seed but takes commitment to have constant supply, although daily attention is required it is literally just a couple of minutes a day to grow your own endless supply. Seeds can be bought cheaply in bulk via eBay but shop wisely as prices vary pretty radically. I would definitely recommend it I can’t say i suffer with all your symptoms but I juice it then take it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and within minutes I feel it’s effects and feel energised. Maybe worth reading up on? Green smoothies are another great way to consume a large number of vits and minerals in one go. I go through nearly a 1.5 kg of kale and spinach a week by adding them to smoothies which when you look at a kg of spinach would be otherwise a pretty gruelling challenge. I have suffered chronic depression at several points in my life and along with other lifestyle choices including regular exercise, which I know when you are feeling constantly worn out seems impossible but believe me it can help certainly in lifting your mood and once you start you might find it actually energising. I am neither vegetarian, suffer heavy periods or take meds for thyroid but i have now been 7 years without meds for depression and have found exercise and diet play a huge part in feeling good about life. It doesn’t happen overnight and there is no magic pill in my opinion, but believe in yourself and that you have a right to be happy, don’t punish yourself for feeling low and always remember that you have the right to be you. We are all broken in one way or another and remember it’s the cracks that let the light in. Good luck in looking after yourself.

  3. If intrinsic factor is diminished one cannot absorb B-12 from either food or tablets. Therefore it should be taken in sublingual form. Shots don’t provide a steady level of energy.

  4. absolutely correct sign & symptoms of B12 deficiency but the most dangerous & affecting life is CNS , brain functions affected by B12 deficiency , depression , confusion , loss of concentration due to low oxygen supply to neurons , inability to perform higher intellectual functions e.g learning & aqpplication of learned knowledge due to decreased oxygen supply to neurons , brain cells <

  5. My stomach has stopped aborbing B12, and I have to give myself shots,,,,I actually had less than 1% on my blood test,,,,,and it took weeks of shots, gradually spreading the number of days they were in between, before I got to once a week. I would literally fall asleep talking to people at work. Already had depression, and thryroid because of nodules,,,,,this just added to it all. The funny thing was when asked what my diet was, I should have had more than enough natural B12,,,,,and I didn’t, and the dissolving pills didn’t raise it either. So now I am in the position of having to give shots. Maybe if the Dr had found this sooner I would have been able to help it in another way.

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