Grey hair, fatigue, dark skin, forgetting things easily, pins and needles, mouth sores, depressed mood? Do I sound like I know the story of your life? Then this article is for you my Dear. These all zeros down to the vitamin b12 deficiency signs your body is giving you. Your body is begging you to take some vitamin b12 rich sources or just pop that vitamin pill for heaven’s sake! Well, this article is going to be a long one, if you are one of those skippers, then I have added the main headings here. You can click the heading and jump on it directly and you don’t have to go through my sermons. For starters, the Daily requirement of vitamin b12 is 2.5 micrograms for an average adult( 2.6 for pregnant women and 2.8 mcg for feeding moms).
Important Things about Vitamin B12
- The scientific name of Vitamin B12 is Cobalamin.
- It is a Water-soluble vitamin – Which means that vitamin b12 dissolves in water. This is the reason why you pee crazy yellow-colored urine when you are being a good girl and taking your b-complex pills regularly.
- The main function of vitamin B12 is to build red blood cells in our body, those little color makers that give that ‘bloody’ color to the blood. Vitamin B12 also helps us stay focused and prevents us from going ‘out of our minds’.(like literally)
- Our body can’t make it so you need to read this article (wink…wink)
- Deficiency develops sloowwwwlllyyyyy…..(are you reading it slooowwwlllyy too?)
- Vitamin B12 deficiency is diagnosed with a blood test and mostly with its symptoms.
- Intestines absorb it from food or pills or injections. The stomach makes a protein that helps in absorbing vitamin B12 in our body. So now that you know all about this very important vitamin, let’s jump to the weird symptoms that you may feel if you are deficient too (if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you most likely are).
The takeaway for the skippers – B12 (cobalamin) gives the crazy yellow color to your urine and our bodies are unable to make it so we need to take it through food resources or through pills and injections.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Signs
- You get tired easily – Weakness & fatigue is common if you are deficient in vitamin b12. As the red blood cells that carry oxygen are less in number due to the deficiency so the body becomes deficient in oxygen. This lack of oxygen makes us feel tired and fatigued easily.
- Pale Skin – Lack of those rosy blood cells gives your skin a pale and jaundiced appearance. If people around you tell you that you look weak and pale then take them more seriously this time. Lack of B12 hampers DNA production as well.
- Pin and needles – B12 works like a boss in keeping those nerves covered with a blanket known as the myelin sheath. When B12 is lesser, the nerve endings shiver in the absence of their blanket, you feel that shivering in the form of pins and needles. Get that damn B12 today!
- Grey Hair – Apart from blaming your genes and stress in your life, you can now blame vitamin B12 deficiency for those nasty grey/white hair at such a young age. Yes, it is true and these studies (1, 2) prove it, it is reversible as well so start taking vitamin b12 along with your hair care routine. You must read – how to turn your white hair into black permanently.
- You struggle for balance – Believe it or not, B12 deficiency can make you walk like a drunkard. You may find it hard to balance or you run into things frequently. It may not be you who walks like phoebe but your vitamin b12 levels will make you walk like a wobbly panna cotta.
- Mouth Ulcers – Do you get those annoying mouth ulcers frequently, it is a sign of your body asking for some vitamin B12. Taking the vitamin after you have had ulcers also helps them to heal faster. There can be a burning sensation in the mouth is also a vitamin b12 deficiency sign.
- You struggle for breath after a little physical activity – If a small physical activity like 5 minutes walk, house chores, and cleaning your bathroom leaves you panting, it can be due to vitamin b12 deficiency. The palpitations (where you can hear your heartbeat, like literally) may accompany.
- Dizziness – Getting dizzy after working for hours in bad posture is understandable but if you feel lightheaded or dizzy often then it’s time to get your vitamin b12 levels checked too. Don’t forget to get your neck muscles checked as they may be the original culprit.
- Depressed Mood – A lack of B12 in your blood can create havoc with your brain. Studies have shown that it is one of the main reasons for depressed mood along with confusion and forgetfulness. So the next time you are feeling gloomy, pop some vitamin b12 pills on a regular basis after concerning your healthcare professional.
- Fever in rare cases – It is not quite common to have a fever in case of vitamin b12 deficiency unless your levels are touching the lower limits or your body is more sensitive. Some infants and adults have shown fever in vitamin deficiency and other anemias as well. Make sure you get advice from your healthcare professional first before popping any pills.
- Joint Pains – These joint pains are not sharpshooting types but more like dull aching types in most cases. The joint pains are accompanied by fatigue that makes it worse to handle your daily chores let alone the special tasks. Consulting an orthopedic doctor is a good idea to rule out other causes of pain such as arthritis or aging etc.
- Loss of taste and smell – Well, this one is harsh, as it raises alarms about having covid (the new devil that all of us are afraid of) but it is a vitamin b12 deficiency sign as well. As the taste buds smoothen out, the loss of taste and smell hampers. However, if you are experiencing a sudden loss of taste and smell then get yourself tested for covid as well.
- Nervous System Problems – Memory loss has been observed in many b12 deficient cases. If you are facing thinking difficulty or if the reasoning seems too hard to handle, then see if there are any other signs as well. Altered behavior, forgetfulness, mood swings, and confusion have been observed as well. Psychomotor regression (sluggish mental and physical activity) has been seen in a newborn in research due to vitamin b12 deficiency and malnourishment. Identifying vitamin b12 deficiency signs is important as early as possible so that any irreversible neurological damage can be prevented as concluded here.
- Swollen Tongue – If it’s not something else you know about, it can be vitamin b12 seeking your kind attention. The tongue appears red and inflamed, it can also be smooth as well, it is known as glossitis.
- Digestion Troubles – Any problem with indigestion that ranges from constipation to diarrhea can be due to a lack of vitamin b12 in your body. Gas, and flatulence can also occur. So make it a point that you listen to your grumbling stomach.
- Tinnitus – Tinnitus is the presence of a ringing sound in the ears. Although it is rare patients with vitamin B12 deficiency have reported tinnitus. The deficiency can also affect the brain pathways and the functioning of the inner ear if the deficiency is not treated well in time, read the study here.
- Vision Disturbance – Again it seldom happens but the deficiency of cobalamin results in damage to the optic nerve (the nerve that handles the vision responsibility). This creates vision disturbance that is often reversible with vitaminB12 injections. It can also occur in case of vitamin E deficiency, here is an article about Vitamin E Uses and all about it.
- Decreased appetite and weight loss – If you are unable to taste food properly, a decrease in appetite can be expected. As the brain processes food with taste and smell as well. Loss of appetite then leads to weight loss.
- Reduced Platelet count – As this latest study suggests, the platelet count also reduces in the absence of vitamin B12, this can mimic many other disorders thereby making the diagnosis difficult. Getting a blood test is your best bet and talking to your health professional as well.
- Skin Hyperpigmentation – Skin darkness is known to be the only symptom in many case studies and the good news is that it is reversible. It is also common in babies and in most of the cases, hands and feet are the most affected (that is they are darker than the rest of the body). So if you are experiencing the overall skin darkness or dark patches on your skin then it may be the time to get your vitamin B12 deficiency test done or better, call your family doctor and start taking the multivitamins right now. Another reason for dull skin and hyperpigmentation is Vitamin E deficiency, read about vitamin E deficiency and its Uses.
Sources of Vitamin B12
- Poultry, fish, egg, meat
- If you are a vegetarian then milk and yogurt (1) can help in replenishing the depleted stores of vitamin b12.
- Those who are vegan need to take it from bread and fortified cereals like these
For US users –
- Spirulina has the highest amount of vitamin b12 supplement as compared to other plant-based agents(4) so adding spirulina powder to your green smoothie can be your best bet if you are against those god-send vitaminb12 pills. Here are the spirulina Variants you can buy
- Chia Seeds also have good vitamin b content.
For Indian Readers –
For US Readers –
What is a fortified Cereal?
Fortified foods or cereals contain some added vitamins and minerals that are not normally present in them. They fulfill the daily requirement of minerals and vitamins in just one serving. To know whether your cereal is fortified or not, don’t forget to read the label of the cereal box. Read more about the fortified cereals here in this Healthline article.
People more prone to B12 deficiency or the Reason Behind B12 Deficiency
- Older adults get this deficiency more often than younger adults as the acid production lowers down and digestion becomes sluggish with age.
- Vegans – Vegans rely on just plant-produced products. Vegan moms are known to transfer vitamin B deficiency to their breastfeeding infants. This study shows that this is a quite common reason behind vitamin B deficiency in babies. So if you are a vegan and are planning to keep your baby vegan too then I strongly suggest that you seek medical advice before that. As the baby can face serious deficiencies that can pose serious health risks as well.
- Metformin (the most common diabetes medicine) is known to hamper the absorption of vitamin b12, here is the proof. So if you are taking metformin then ask your healthcare provider to prescribe some vitamin b12 supplements as well.
- People on long-term antacids (omeprazole, pantoprazole, etc) also absorb fewer vitamin B12 as acid is required to absorb this holy vitamin!
- Weight Loss Surgery and other gastric surgeries are known to cause vitamin b12 deficiency. If you have undergone any of that then look out for these signs of vitamin b12 deficiency.
- Bowel surgery – if the part of the intestine that absorbs vitamin b12 gets chopped up in the surgery. Then you are bound to have the deficiency. Ask your doctor about the ways to prevent that.
- Certain diseases such as Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Pernicious anemia, and atrophic gastritis are also known to cause VBD (Vitamin B Deficiency)
- Regular Alcohol consumers – If you are one of those who love having their wine with every meal or those who happen to have it every evening, then you need to get your vitamin B12 levels checked regularly.
- Heredity – Yes this exists. As the deficiency runs in generations, so you can be a teetotaller and have VBD. That’s why knowing the vitamin B12 deficiency signs is so important.
Here is the study that proves these causes – Causes reference
Interaction with other Vitamins and Minerals
- Correlation of Vitamin B12 deficiency and Vitamin D deficiency
This study by NCBI proves that severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to fever and other more serious types of anemia such as thrombocytopenia and hemolytic anemia.
- Folate deficiency and Vitamin B12
If you are low on vitamin b12, then taking the folic acid in high quantities will make the matters worse. As a high level of serum folate will decrease the two enzymes of vitamin B12, read here. In other words, if you are high on folate levels, your vitamin b12 levels will be low in most cases.
How to treat Vitamin B12 Deficiency
once you are hit with the vitamin B12 Deficiency Signs, here is what you can do –
- Food Choices– Refer to sources of vitamin b12.
- Pills/ vitamin B tabs – Taking the vitamin b12 tabs daily works quite well in the long run to replenish the stores of vitamin B12 (proof here).
For Indian Users – I found this one the best and cost-effective as well –
For US Users, these are your best bet –
- Weekly Shots (injections) of B12 – The injections and the pills of vitamin B12, both are highly effective in treating the deficiency. This study proved it after both the pill group and the injection group showed great improvement in vitamin b12 levels. However, if you are in dire need of vitamin b12 then injections can provide you that faster.
- Regular Exercises – This study states that people who exercise regularly are less prone to vitamin B12 deficiency than people who follow a sedentary lifestyle. So even if you can’t go out for exercise in today’s scenario (as covid is super active), walking on the spot at home, jogging and yoga, pranayama is a great way to stay active. Make sure you warm-up and cool down before and after exercise respectively.
This was all about the vitamin B12 deficiency signs and how to combat them. This post contains some affiliate links which means our website may earn some commission if you happen to buy something from the given links at no extra cost to you.
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Other References –