Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin involved in the metabolism of every cell of the body. It has special function in DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and in the nervous system. If left untreated, vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to prolonged blood diseases as well as nerve-related issues. Here are 7 warning signs associated with vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Frequent bouts about dizziness and vertigo can indicate B12 deficiency. You may experience a feeling of wobbliness when you get up too fast from a sitting position. You may also feel dizzy when you climb up or down the stairs. Chronic vertigo symptoms should be brought to your doctor’s attention so you can be given the required treatment for the deficiency.1
You put your keys in the fridge. Or have to think hard to remember your niece’s name. You may be worried that it’s early dementia, but sometimes low B12 is to blame. Chronic and uncharacteristic forgetfulness may indicate a B12 deficiency. This is because vitamin B12 helps form the protective sheath – myelin sheath – on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves and helps them function well. Many patients assume that they are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, especially in their senior years, while all they lack is B12.2
3. Muscle Weakness
Does that grocery bag feels like a million pounds? If they’re not getting enough oxygen from red blood cells, your muscles will feel like mush. Lack of vitamin B12 reduces the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the muscles. Insufficient oxygen to muscles can result in sluggishness and uncharacteristic muscle weakness. Suddenly an individual who carries big loads might not be able to manage a heavy purse or a gym bag.3
4. Pale Complexion
If your rosy complexion now has a yellow cast, low B12 may be the culprit. Those suffering from B12 deficiency are pale in complexion due to the lack of red blood cells, which causes megaloblastic anemia.4
5. Pins And Needles
Experiencing pins and needles throughout your body could be signs of B12 deficiency. This tingling or tickling sensation is known as paraesthesia and is a common complaint in cases of B12 deficiency.5 This could be a result of nerve damage in B12 deficient patients as nerve cells become demyelinated – that is, the myelin sheath becomes damaged – in the absence of B12.
Fatigue felt for days even though you regularly get a good night’s sleep may be the result of a B12 deficiency. This is due to the lack of red blood cell production, which is one of B12’s responsibilities. Lack of red blood cells means oxygen transport to your organs is lacking, which is what is causing extreme fatigue. In fact, fatigue symptoms in patients of chronic fatigue syndrome can be improved by administering a substantial amount of vitamin B12.6
Low B12 stores over the long term can lead to vision changes and damage your vision, causing optic neuropathy.7 Megaloblastic anemia often leads to the degeneration of the optic nerve that transmits impulses from the retina to the brain.8 However, supplements can restore full vision. Prevent vitamin B12 deficiency with these foods if you are a vegan and these foods if you aren’t one.
|↑1||Singh, Bhawna, and Sarika Arora. “Acute presentation of dizziness in vitamin B12 deficient old patient of cardiac disease: A case report.” Clinica Chimica Acta 411, no. 23 (2010): 2104-2106.|
|↑2, ↑4||Vitamin B12 Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑3||Vitamin B12 Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.
|↑5||Larner, A. J. “Missed diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency presenting with paraesthetic symptoms.” International journal of clinical practice 56, no. 5 (2002): 377-378.|
|↑6||Werbach, Melvyn R. “Nutritional strategies for treating chronic fatigue syndrome.” Alternative Medicine Review 5, no. 2 (2000): 93-108.|
|↑7||Chavala, Sai H., Gregory S. Kosmorsky, Mina K. Lee, and Michael S. Lee. “Optic neuropathy in vitamin B 12 deficiency.” European journal of internal medicine 16, no. 6 (2005): 447-448.|
|↑8||Anemia, Megaloblastic. National Organization for Rare Diseases.|