Widespread vitamin B12 deficiency is more prevalent in devout vegetarians. Additionally, those with diabetes who are exposed to the herbicide glyphosate, which is used to control wheat. Or people who use medicines to lower their acid levels are more likely to acquire it.
B12 injections are commonly administered to many patients. They have found a variety of advantages, including increased energy levels, improved cognitive function, and weight loss. Among many other benefits.
If you are concerned whether you have a B12 deficiency, then this article will help you. We have put together the 7 main signs that you may be suffering from a B12 deficiency. In addition to that, we will discuss ways in which you can boost your B12 intake.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Cobalamin is often known as vitamin B12. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for the development of DNA, red blood cells, and healthy brain function
You can usually find vitamin B12 stored in your liver. Commonly, it takes years to become deficient, meaning that it can also take time to become repleted.
B12 is only naturally present in animal foods. Hence, up to 90% of people who eat solely vegetarian or vegan meals are vitamin B12 deficient.
In addition to this, due to drugs, disorders like Crohn’s disease, intestinal surgery for weight loss, people can become vitamin B12 deficient. Although, even people who do eat animal products, like meat, can become B12 deficient.
A lack of intrinsic factor also contributes to vitamin B12 deficiency, which develops as we age. According to studies, up to 20% of British and American seniors over the age of 60 may be low in vitamin B12.
However, this does not rule out the possibility of B12 deficiency developing in younger adults and children. Also, those individuals who are pregnant or nursing could be vitamin deficient as well.
Neurological issues, tiredness, and pernicious anemia with low red blood cell counts are side effects of vitamin B12 deficiency. The most popular method to prevent or cure a deficiency is with vitamin B12 injections.
They are particularly effective at increasing blood levels of vitamin B12 and are supplied as hydroxocobalamin or cyanocobalamin.
What Are Normal Vitamin B12 Levels To Have?
How can you tell if you might not be getting enough vitamin B12? Despite having a “normal level” of B12 on a blood test, it is challenging to determine whether your cells are storing enough of the vitamin.
For reference, B12 concentrations above 300 pg/mL are regarded as normal. While levels between 200 and 300 pg/mL are regarded as borderline, and those below 200 pg/mL are regarded as inadequate.
B12 is usually absorbed through the digestive system. However, if you don’t have enough intrinsic factor or acid, have inflammation from yeast or bacterial imbalances. Or an injury from chemicals or pesticides like glyphosate, you might not be able to absorb B12.
Additionally, some individuals with inherited MTHFR gene variants might require B vitamins that are easily utilizable in the methylation form of vitamin B. Due to all of these factors, vitamin B12 injections greatly enhance the condition of those with vitamin B12 deficiencies.
7 Signs That You May Be Vitamin B12 Deficient
Below, we have put together the 7 most common signs to look out for to see if you are B12 deficient. These are the most common, however, these symptoms don’t always mean a vitamin B12 deficiency. These signs can also be a result of another illness.
Difficulty To Focus And Cognitive Executive Function
A B12 deficiency negatively affects the central nervous system. Individuals with low or inadequate B12 levels may experience mental fogginess, struggle to focus, and struggle to complete tasks.
Due to this, the risk of B12 insufficiency rises with age. Older individuals are particularly vulnerable to these negative effects. According to studies, taking supplements of B12 can help those whose mental impairment is caused by low B12 levels.
In a 2020 trial, B12 replacement therapy was administered for three months. It involved 202 individuals with minor mental impairment, low or sub-normal B12 levels, and increased homocysteine levels.
84% of the patients reported considerable improvement in symptoms like forgetfulness, memory loss, and lack of attention after the therapy.
A B12 shortage can have an adverse effect on your mental health. This is because B12 is necessary for the healthy operation of your nervous system.
Developing depression increases in the presence of B12 deficiency. Homocysteine levels can rise as a result of low B12 levels. As a result, the body may experience more DNA damage, oxidative stress, and cell death. This could then eventually lead to the onset of depression.
A 2020 study of 132 kids and teenagers, 89 of whom had depression, and 43 of whom did not. Discovered that the individuals with depression had relatively low B12 levels and higher homocysteine levels than those without depression.
Other signs of low or inadequate B12 levels can result in psychosis and mood disorders. Among other mental illnesses as well.
Headaches are among the neurological side effects of B12 deficiency and shortage.
It is the B12 insufficiency symptom that both adults and children report experiencing the most frequently. Blood levels of B12 have been found to be considerably lower in migraine sufferers compared to non-migraine sufferers in a 2019 study of 140 adults. Half of the adults had migraines.
Additionally, the study discovered that people with the greatest B12 levels had an 80% lower risk of developing migraines. Compared to individuals that had the lowest B12 levels.
You’ll feel worn out if your B12 levels are low or inadequate. Low amounts of B12 can reduce the development of healthy red blood cells. Which can then reduce your oxygen supply.
Megaloblastic anemia can be brought on by a B12 or folate deficiency. Large, aberrant, and premature red blood cells are produced as a result of this disorder. This can affect your DNA synthesis.
However, when your B12 levels are regarded as normal or perhaps borderline low. You can experience fatigue as well as other symptoms linked to a B12 insufficiency.
Oral And Gastrointestinal Issues
Glossitis, a term used in medicine to describe a swollen, red, and painful tongue. Can be brought on by a B12 deficiency.
Glossitis can coexist with stomatitis, which is defined by inflammation and ulcers in the mouth. This is a common occurrence for someone who is B12 deficient.
Other vitamin deficits, such as those in riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and folate can be caused by glossitis. In addition to these gastrointestinal symptoms, a B12 shortage can also result in diarrhea, nausea, constipation, bloating, and gas.
Numerous of these symptoms are vague and may be brought on by other sources. For instance, diarrhea may be caused by illnesses, drugs, and food intolerances.
Paresthesia In Hands And Feet
Paresthesia is a term used in medicine to describe a pins-and-needles or burning feeling in specific body parts. This is typically observed in your hands and feet.
Paresthesia is a common symptom of B12 insufficiency in both adults and children. This B12 deficient symptom is similar to that of diabetic neuropathy. Which is nerve damage brought on by high blood sugar and can result in numbness and pain in the extremities.
Since metformin, a common diabetes treatment, can decrease the body’s absorption of vitamin B12. Using this medication increases the chance of developing B12 deficiency.
As a result, several professionals advise that metformin users undergo routine testing for vitamin B12 deficiency.
A B12 shortage can also be indicated by yellow or pale skin.
Similar to anemia brought on by an iron deficit. Anemia caused by a B12 deficiency can cause your skin to seem pale because the body lacks enough mature, healthy red blood cells.
Other Symptoms And Signs Of A B12 Deficiency
Alongside all the symptoms we have mentioned above. There are few other signs to look out for, as a B12 deficiency may lead to the following issues:
- Muscles Weakness And Cramps – Lack of B12 impairs motor function, which can result in motor dysfunction and muscle weakness and cramping.
- Coordination Issues – B12 insufficiency can result in ataxia, or decreased balance and coordination, which is a neurological symptom. A person with a B12 deficiency could have trouble balancing and walking.
- Erectile Dysfunction – Due to elevated amounts of homocysteine in the body, men with B12 deficiency may have erectile dysfunction.
- Vision Impairment – Vision problems may result from a B12 deficiency, possibly as a result of optic nerve injury.
Detecting And Treating B12 Deficiency
The symptoms of vitamin B12 insufficiency aren’t specific to the ailment. Thus, it could go unnoticed or be misdiagnosed.
If you exhibit some of the symptoms listed above and have risk factors related to your lifestyle or other conditions like the ones listed below. Then testing for vitamin B12 deficiency is advised.
Risk factors include:
- Anyone over the age of 60 years old.
- Taking medicine that depletes B12, such as proton pump inhibitors or metformin.
- Following a restrictive diet such as a vegan diet.
- Breastfeeding or pregnant.
- Possessing a health condition that may cause B12 levels to drop.
If you believe you are at risk or showing any of these signs mentioned. Then it is important that you get our B12 levels checked. A range of levels within your body can be checked to see whether you have a B12 deficiency.
This includes a doctor checking your B12, folate, homocysteine and methyl malonic acid levels. While also, they may take a complete blood count alongside a peripheral smear.
These tests will be able to give your doctor a clear idea of your B12 levels and what may be causing them to drop.
B12 injections may be an effective treatment for low or low normal vitamin B12 levels. Oral B12 supplements could also be taken into account. Addressing underlying medical issues that might be the source of the deficit is necessary.
The most efficient and effective way to restore B12 levels is through B12 injections. Which are strongly advised for those who cannot adequately ingest B12 through supplements or food.
This includes people who have had surgery for gastric bypass or people who have certain autoimmune illnesses.
Foods Rich In B12
Eggs, meats, shellfish and fish are all foods that are high in vitamin B12. Hence, for people who consume a more meat focused diet, then they will have less trouble in maintaining their B12 levels in their body.
B12-fortified foods, such as nutritional yeast and plant milk, can be added to a vegan or vegetarian diet. While also taking a B12 supplement can assist you in maintaining your levels at their ideal range.
Thus, no matter what your diet looks like, there’s a way of maintaining your B12 levels. Although, it can be more difficult for those individuals that decide to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. However, as mentioned, there are plenty of supplements for those individuals to follow.
Fatigue, headaches, pale complexion, mental impairment, depression, and inflammation and pain in your mouth and tongue. These are just a few of the symptoms that can result from a B12 insufficiency.
Since many of the symptoms associated with low B12 levels are not unique to B12 deficiency. Thus, it is easy for the illness to go unnoticed. It’s vital to get examined, go through the proper testing, and receive the proper care if you exhibit any of the aforementioned symptoms.
We hope this article has been helpful. Now you know the 7 main signs to look out for if you think you may be suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency. Remember, if you think there is a problem, then it is important to speak with a medical professional.
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