What are the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency?
Weakness and fatigue, brain fog, light-headedness, loss of balance, rapid heartbeat and breathing, pale skin, sore tongue, easy bruising or bleeding, including bleeding gums, stomach upset and weight loss and diarrhea or constipation are all symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency.
If the deficiency is not corrected, it can damage the nerve cells. If this happens, vitamin B12 deficiency effects may include: tingling or numbness in arms, legs, fingers and toes, difficulty walking, mood changes or depression, memory loss, disorientation, and dementia.
What Diseases are Linked to Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
- Alzheimer’s, dementia, cognitive decline and memory loss, (collectively referred to as “aging”)
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological disorders
- Mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis)
- Cardiovascular disease
- Learning or developmental disorders in kids
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Autoimmune disease and other immune system dysfunction
- Male and female infertility
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Who is at risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency?
Many people over age 50 lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from foods. This happens as specialized stomach cells slowly lose their ability to release an enzyme called intrinsic factor that helps break down dietary B12.
Strict vegans (people who don’t eat any animal products, including meat, eggs, or milk) are at greatest risk. Vegetarians who eat eggs and milk products are also at risk, because, on average, they consume less than half the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12. Studies consistently demonstrate that up to 50 percent of long-term vegetarians and 80 percent of vegans are deficient in B12.
A common myth amongst vegetarians and vegans is that it’s possible to get B12 from plant sources like seaweed, fermented soy, spirulina and brewers yeast. But plant foods said to contain B12 actually contain B12 analogs called cobamides that block B12 absorption and increase the need for metabolically useful B12. See the following study for explanation: (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10552882)
Others who may be low in Vitamin B12 are those who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery and people who have digestive disorders, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease.
What are the Functions of Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 works together with folate in the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells. It’s also involved in the production of the myelin sheath around the nerves, and the conduction of nerve impulses. Vitamin B12 is also needed for building proteins in the body and helps keep levels of the amino acid homocysteine in check, which may help decrease heart disease risk.
Where can I get Vitamin B12 From my diet?
The body absorbs animal sources of vitamin B12 much better than plant sources. As mentioned above, non-animal sources of vitamin B12 are not reliable sources of the vitamin.
Can you benefit from vitamin B12?
Take the survey in the next section to see if you can benefit from vitamin B12. If you have a score of 10 or higher, you will likely benefit from vitamin B12 injection.
Are You Vitamin B12 Deficient? Take a Self-Awareness Survey
On a scale of 0 to 4, with zero being “experience not at all” and four being “experience greatly,” rate yourself on these symptoms and keep a running point total:
- Depression (double your score)
- Fatigue (double your score)
- Brain fog (double your score)
- Numbness or tingling in hands and feet (double your score)
- Bleed or bruise easily
- Slow reflexes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Memory problems
- Menstrual problems
- Pale, chalky skin
- Pale nail beds
- Pale tongue
- Sore tongue
- Feeling of weakness
- Difficulties with balance
- Bleeding gums
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent colds and flus
- Tender calves
Scoring: When adding up your total score, double the values for the first four symptoms (Depression, Fatigue, Brain fog and Numbness or tingling in hands and feet). All other symptoms are 0 to 4.
- Under 10 points — most likely not Vitamin B12 deficient
- 10 to 15 points — probable to benefit from Vitamin B12
- 15+ ponts — likely to benefit from Vitamin B12