Vitamin B12 Deficiency – Signs and Symptoms You Should Know

Vitamin B12 deficiency is among the most common issues faced by the contemporary generation. There’s a lot of buzz about the proper intake of vitamin B12 and how it can be managed through supplementation and other means. The importance of this vitamin for good health cannot be undermined in any way.  Given this, it’s important that you keep a close watch on the signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. The easiest way to check if you have a deficiency is with a home b12 test you can do this without visiting a doctor. 

Vitamin B12 has a vital role to play in your body. It is needed for the production of red blood cells and is also responsible for building your DNA. The most concerning part about vitamin B12 is that it cannot be generated within the body. The only sources of vitamin B12 are supplements or animal-based food items. These items have to be taken regularly as the body can neither synthesize or store vitamin B12 for long periods. In this article, we’ll throw light on important facts about vitamin B12, especially the signs and symptoms of its deficiency.

Sources of Vitamin B12

You will find vitamin B12 in small quantities in animal foods. Therefore, you may either consume natural foodstuffs that are fortified with this vitamin or opt for supplements to take care of the deficiency of vitamin B12 in your body. The animal sources include eggs, fish, meat, dairy products, and poultry. Vitamin B12 fortified food items can be found in various forms in health food and specialty stores. You may want to discuss the various options available in the marketplace with your preferred health care specialist. Your doctor can also recommend whether you require a blood test to ascertain your vitamin B12 levels. Earl Hailey of Patch MD says that having healthy vitamin B12 levels is one of the best ways to prevent anemia. As it becomes more difficult to absorb this nutrient as the body ages, it’s well-advised to supplement this vitamin through natural or synthesized sources before its too late.

Cause of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

One of the main causes attributed to vitamin B12 deficiency is a weight loss surgery or any other type of surgical intervention. If you are a heavy drinker or have undergone an operation in which a part of your stomach has been removed then there’s a high probability of vitamin B12 deficiency occurring in you. The other causes attributed to this deficiency are:

  • Atrophic gastritis, a condition in which the stomach lining starts thinning
  • Pernicious anemia, that makes the absorption of vitamin B12 by the body a difficult and slow process
  • Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, bacterial growth, parasitic infections, or other health condition that may affect your gastrointestinal system adversely
  • Graves’ disease (lupus) and various other immune system disorders, etc.

Regular intake of medication that may interfere with vitamin B12 absorption can also result in its deficiency. These include certain heartburn medicines in the category of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like omeprazole, esomeprazole, rabeprazole, pantoprazole, lansoprazole, etc.  The proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) of the likes of esomeprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, pantoprazole, omeprazole, etc. also reduce the absorption of vitamin B12 by the body. H2 Blockers like famotidine, ranitidine, and cimetidine fall in the same category of vitamin B12 inhibitors. Diabetes medicines like metformin may also trigger off vitamin B12 deficiency.

Another noteworthy cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is a vegetarian diet. So, if you don’t consume animal products like milk, cheese, meat, and eggs, you are likely to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. To alleviate the signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, it’s important to take fortified foods along with your diet or buy supplements to meet the demand.

Symptoms & Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The main symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are as follows:

  1. Jaundiced or pale skin texture

If your body is deficient in vitamin B12 then the skin will take on a slightly yellow or pale tinge. The same colors will appear in the white regions of your eye to bring about the condition of jaundice. This occurs because a reduction in B12 levels leads to problems in the red blood cell production in your body. This brings about a condition known as megaloblastic anemia in which the red blood cells generated in your bone marrow tend to be large and fragile. An increase in the levels of bilirubin in the liver takes place and adds to the pale look of the skin and eyes.

  1. Weakness, fatigue, and listlessness

People suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency find themselves weak and fatigued. This is because of the reduced levels of vitamin B12 in the body for making red blood cells. As less oxygen gets transported across the body, they feel lethargic and listless with little or no energy to take them through the day. In the case of elderly patients, this condition is the result of an autoimmune condition referred to as pernicious anemia.

  1. Pins and Needles

Nerve damage is among the more serious results of B12 deficiency that’s long-term and deeply ingrained. As vitamin B12 is one of the main contributors to the human metabolic pathway, which is responsible for producing myelin (the fatty substance), its deficiency results in poor nerve functions. Paresthesia, or feeling pins and needles in the feet and hands, is an important sign of this deficiency that takes place along with anemia.

  1. Changed mobile functions

The damages inflicted by long-term and untreated B12 deficiency influences your body balance adversely. It brings about differences in how you walk or move. When your body coordination gets affected then you’ll become more prone to losing your balance and falling down. This symptom is quite common in seniors as they are likely to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. It may also appear in young people having a severe or untreated deficiency. 

Check Your Vitamin B12 Levels

Get your vitamin B12 levels checked before it’s too late. Reach out to your health care specialist to understand how to supplement your diet with natural and manufactured products to keep the signs of vitamin B12 deficiency at bay. Start the process today.

Photo by Travis Yewell on Unsplash

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