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7 Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms To Be Aware Of!

By Dhwani Jerajani +2 more

Vitamin B12 is a vital water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells. Also known as Cobalamin, it aids in the proper functioning of the nervous system too.

As we get older, our body’s capacity to absorb vitamin B12 from the food we consume starts to diminish. Thus, it is observed that deficiency of B12 is more prevalent amongst the elderly as compared to the young.

vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms

However, this may not be the only reason why your body may not be able to absorb this essential vitamin.

Besides the elderly, below are some categories of people who primarily suffer from this deficiency:

  • People who adhere to a strict vegan diet.
  • Patients taking antacid drugs for heartburn for a long duration.
  • People who have undergone weight loss surgery.

Unfortunately, it takes years for the symptoms of this deficiency to show up and diagnose the same could be cumbersome too. Thus, here is a rundown of symptoms that you should definitely keep a tab on.

Did you know?

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common in individuals who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. source: ncbi
  • The use of certain medications, such as proton pump inhibitors and metformin, can increase the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. source: ncbi
  • The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin B12 in adults is 2.4 micrograms per day. source: ncbi
  • Untreated vitamin B12 deficiency can cause irreversible damage to the nervous system. source: ncbi

1. Oral Symptoms such as Mouth Ulcers and Glossitis

Many Vitamin B12 deficient patients experience mouth ulcers along with a burning and itching sensation in the mouth. Many others also suffer from Glossitis – this is a condition where the tongue changes colour and shape and appears red and swollen. It also causes the surface of the tongue to appear smooth as the tiny bumps on the tongue that contain the taste buds stretch out and disappear.

2. A Prickling Sensation in Hands and Feet

One of the most serious long-term side effects of this deficiency is nerve damage. B12 plays a crucial role in the metabolic pathway that produces Myelin. Myelin is a fatty substance that surrounds the nerves thereby offering them protection. Thus without B12, the nervous system is not able to function properly. One very common sign of this improper functioning is Paresthesia, a prickling sensation that one experiences in hands and legs.

In more severe cases, the disease process can progress to involve the nervous system. Sub acute combined degeneration of spinal cord can result from B12 deficiency, causing damage to various segments of the spinal cord. A complete neurologic exam should evaluate for loss of memory, tingling pain in nerves,loss of balance and a loss of joint sensation. A mental status exam may also be useful to evaluate any neuropsychiatric changes.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

3. Pale and Jaundiced Skin

Many B12 patients look pale and have a slight yellow tinge in the whites of their eyes and their skin. This happens due to the improper production of the red blood cells and causes an anaemic condition called Megaloblastic Anaemia. In this condition, the red blood cells produced in the bone marrow are large and fragile and are unable to divide. Since they are too large they cannot pass out of the bone marrow and into the bloodstream for circulation. Without an adequate number of red blood cells circulating in the blood, the skin appears pale and yellow.

Also Read: 12 Natural Remedies For Mouth Ulcers

4. Tiredness and Fatigue

With a shortage of red blood cells, adequate oxygen doesn’t get transported throughout the body. This makes a person feel tired and weak. In some extreme cases, many patients also experience shortness of breath and dizziness. Also, read about  14 things that cause fatigue.

Vitamin B12 is very Important f the maintenance of nervous system in adults in pregnancy when it is combined with folic acid, it is very important to avoid any spinal disorders in the unborn child.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D.

5. Mood Swings

Low levels of vitamin B12 can also be associated with phases of mood swings and bouts of depression in certain patients.

6. Repeated pattern of headaches

A deficit or insufficient supply of Vitamin B12 in the body can lead to several neurological side effects, including headaches. In fact, headaches are amongst the most commonly reported symptoms related to B12 deficiency in both adults and kids. According to some studies, if you display certain types of headaches, you are more likely to have low B12 levels in your body.

Also Read: What Deficiency Causes Cold Hands And Feet: A Scientific Investigation

7. Difficulty in concentrating

A deficiency in B12 has an aggressive impact on the central nervous system. People with low or deficient B12 levels may feel foggy and light-headed and have difficulty concentrating and completing tasks. Older adults are especially at risk for these side effects because the risk of B12 deficiency increases with age.  

Other symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include vision disturbances, erectile dysfunction, impaired coordination and muscle cramps.

Must Read: 7 Side Effects of Vitamin B12 Deficiency  On The Body

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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