5 Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency 

Does your pale-colored skin always attribute to Jaundice? Do you feel easily tired and weak while performing daily routine tasks? Well, these symptoms may also point to Vitamin B12 deficiency. Let’s learn more about the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency in your body.

Why Do We Need Vitamin B12 

Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells and for proper functions of the central nervous system. It is not stored in the body, therefore to meet the needs of vitamin B12 deficiency, we have to take it from outside.

The deficiency of Vitamin B12 can lead to anaemia (low haemoglobin levels) and disturbed brain functions. 

Vitamin B12 also leads to folate deficiency, which is very important for the immune response of the body. 

Lack of Intrinsic Factor (a protein essential to absorb vitamin B12) also leads to vitamin B12 deficiency and thus needs to be supplemented.

Risk Factors

Elderly people – In elders, there is a protein known as the Intrinsic Factor which stops building up in the body after 50 years of age. This Intrinsic factor is essential for the absorption of Vitamin B12 and therefore if not supplemented, can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency.

People with an only vegan diet – Your body absorbs Vitamin B12 properly from an animal-based diet, and the persons with a purely vegan diet are under threat of getting Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Prolonged diabetic and GERD medications – Medications such as antacids, metformin, used for prolonged tenure can disturb the gut flora and fauna, which will automatically hinder vitamin B absorption.

Persons with gut surgery – People who have undergone any surgery, related to gut or intestine, or weight loss surgeries, the area of Vitamin B12 absorption may be disturbed or removed. Now the Vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed in the gut and will certainly lead to its deficiency.

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Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

vitamin B 12 deficiency symptoms

#1. Pale Color of the Skin

You can easily check up on the color of the skin if it’s normal or pale yellow in color. Yellow tinged color of the skin and in eye whites, is a common vitamin B12 deficiency symptom. 

As vitamin B12 is required for the formation of red blood cells, so if deficiency is there in the body, there will be fewer amount of red blood cells in the blood. Red blood cells in turn are responsible for supplying oxygen to all parts of the body. Oxygen is required for the well-being of all cells, and lack of oxygen will lead to the pale color of skin.

Though the red blood cell production is less, the cell destruction is taking place at a regular pace, bilirubin, a yellowish-brown compound in the liver, which breaks the old cells, causes the yellow color to the skin.

#2. Ulcers in Mouth

Vitamin B12 deficiency disturbs the flora and fauna of the mouth cavity which can lead to inflammation of the tongue and loss of taste buds. This condition is known as Glossitis and is one of the main diagnostic features of Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Recurrent mouth ulcers and swollen tongue both can cause difficulty in speaking and eating. Dry mouth conditions such as Xerostomia, Candidiasis have very common occurrences.

#3. Fatigue and Weakness

As in Vit B12 Deficiency, there are fewer red blood cells in your body supplying oxygen. Lack of oxygen can make you feel weak and tired most of the time. You may feel easily tired and breathless even on minor exertions.

Low levels of red blood cells and low oxygen in the body can lead to anaemia, which slows down your immune response and cell growth.

In elders, a condition known as Pernicious Anaemia occurs due to low Vitamin B12 levels. This happens due to reduced production of the Intrinsic Factor which is required for Vitamin B12 absorption in the gut. ( Intrinsic Factor ceases to be produced near the early 60s.

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#4. Loss of Balance and Tingling Sensations

Lack of Vitamin B12 in the body can also affect the central nervous system and disturb your body’s reflexes. Low oxygen levels delay your responsiveness and thus leads to poor stability of the body and difficulty to concentrate, remember things or decisions making.

Inability to concentrate and poor balance of the body can be commonly seen in elders and due to prolonged Vitamin B 12 deficiencies in young individuals.

Prolonged vitamin B12 deficiencies can even cause nerve damage causing Paresthesia, a condition making you feel like needle pricks or tingling sensations in the body. 

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#5. Mood Fluctuations

According to the Homocysteine theory of depression, low vitamin B12 levels can increase the levels of homocysteine, which damages the brain tissues and disturbs the transmission of nerve impulses resulting in brain-related problems such as dementia, depression, anxiety, and mood changes.

Way Forward

To reverse the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency, you need to add foods to your daily diet which are riched in vitamin B12.

Foods such as Beef, Chicken, Fish, yogurt, low-fat milk, and cheese are good sources of Vitamin B12.

However, if you are vegetarian and cannot have meat or chicken, you can opt for Vitamin B12 supplements or non-dairy products fortified with vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 supplements are also advised to elderly groups as they are at greater risk for getting pernicious anaemia.

Folic acid and Iron supplements are also advised to manage Anaemia and Vitamin B12 deficiencies in the body.

About Dr. Amita Dhawan

Dr. Amita is the editor-in-chief at HealthExpert and a mother of 4 years old son. She believes in the great possibilities to improve health with natural foods and organic supplements.

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