Skip to content

The SYMPTOMS of Low Vitamin B12 that YOU SHOULD KNOW

28 marzo, 2024

Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that helps keep red blood cells, as well as brain and nerve cells, healthy. It is also essential in the body’s ability to form DNA. It is available in both foods/drinks and supplements and is most commonly found in animal products. look here symptoms of low vitamin b12 and how you can solve the problem.

When foods containing vitamin B12 are eaten, hydrochloric acid in the stomach helps separate vitamin B12 from its food source. Once the vitamin is separated, it binds with what is known as intrinsic factor, which helps the vitamin to be fully absorbed into the body.

Importance of vitamin B12

In addition to its important role in creating DNA, vitamin B12 also helps prevent certain conditions, such as

  • Megaloblastic anemia : a blood condition that causes tiredness and weakness in people.
  • Cancer – Research is still needed to fully understand the effects, but some research shows that people with lower levels of vitamin B12 may have a higher risk of cancer.
  • Heart disease and stroke : Vitamin B12 supplements have been linked to reducing levels of homocysteine, a compound often associated with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke (however, there is no formal evidence showing that the supplement automatically prevents cardiovascular problems).

How much vitamin B12 does a person need?

The amount of vitamin B12 a person needs depends on a few factors, namely age and whether the person is pregnant. According to National Institutes of Health and Human Servicesos, this is the amount of vitamin b12 (measured in micrograms) that a person needs each day:

  • Birth to 6 months: 0.4 mcg
  • Babies 7 to 12 months: 0.5 mcg
  • Children 1 to 3 years: 0.9 mcg
  • Children 4 to 8 years: 1.2 mcg
  • Children 9 to 13 years: 1.8 mcg
  • Adolescents 14 to 18 years old: 2.4 mcg
  • Adults: 2.4 mcg
  • Pregnant women and adolescents: 2.6 mcg
  • Adolescents and breastfeeding women: 2.8 mcg

How common is vitamin B12 deficiency?

In most cases, people can adequately consume enough vitamin B12 to meet recommended doses. However, even if consumed, some may have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12, which can lead to lower vitamin B12 levels. The National Institutes of Health states that up to 40% of Western populations experience lower levels of vitamin B12 or even vitamin B12 deficiency.

Conditions That Cause B12 Deficiency

While vitamin B12 is found in several types of foods and supplements are available, there are several reasons why a person may experience vitamin B12 deficiency (also known as folate deficiency).

Many conditions can set the stage for vitamin B12 deficiency, including:

  • Inability to produce acid Hydrochloric: Hydrochloric acid helps separate vitamin B12 from any protein it is attached to (such as in food-based products) so it can be absorbed.
  • Lack of intrinsic factor: a protein in the stomach that binds with vitamin B12 to help the body properly absorb the nutrient.
  • Pernicious anemia: a specific type of megaloblastic anemia that does not allow the body to properly absorb vitamin B12, which can lead to other symptoms and health problems in the future.
  • Stomach/intestinal disorders: Diseases such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease can make it difficult for the small intestine to absorb vitamin B12.
older man sitting in bed alone

Symptoms of low vitamin b12

There are several symptoms related to vitamin B12 deficiency that can vary in multiple areas.

Physical symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

  • Fatigue: Due to the lack of healthy red blood cells that results from vitamin B12 deficiency, a person may feel constantly tired and fatigued.
  • Pale/yellow skin: Due to a lack of healthy red blood cells, a person’s skin may appear yellowish or pale over time.
  • Headaches: Lack of vitamin B12 can cause constant headaches or migraines. In some situations, those who have headaches as a result of a vitamin B12 deficiency received relief after their vitamin B12 levels were regulated.
  • Stomach/weight problems: Some stomach problems, such as weight loss, diarrhea, bloating, or nausea, can develop in response to vitamin B12 deficiency (although it is important to note that these side effects can also be attributed to other conditions or factors).
  • Muscular weakness: In some cases, vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to possible muscle weakness and cramps, due to its ability to affect sensory nerve functions.

Neurological symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

There have been multiple studies linking vitamin B12 deficiency with neurological problems, such as:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating/focusing
  • Forgot
  • “Pins and needles” in hands and feet
  • Dificulty to walk
  • difficulty speaking

Psychological symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can potentially affect cognitive abilities and can cause problems such as:

  • Depressive symptoms
  • personality changes
  • Irritability

In many cases, those who receive appropriate amounts of vitamin B12 often report improvement in their mental well-being, such as in this study.

Risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency

Group of people hugging and smiling in the kitchen

Vitamin B12 deficiency in older adults: symptoms of low vitamin b12

While different groups of people can experience vitamin B12 deficiency, older adults are specifically at higher risk for experiencing it.

Age itself is a factor in vitamin B12 deficiency, especially since older adults are at higher risk for conditions that contribute to vitamin B12 deficiency, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Atrophic gastritis
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Food-cobalamin malabsorption syndrome

Additionally, as a person ages, their diet may not be as complete as before, or a lack of appetite may prevent older adults from consuming the types of foods and beverages that would provide an adequate amount of vitamin B12. Certain medications can also interfere with a person’s ability to absorb vitamin B12.

How to treat vitamin B12 deficiency

To determine if a person has a vitamin B12 deficiency, they should visit their healthcare provider. A primary care provider can schedule a blood test to get a reading of how high or low your vitamin B12 levels are. Additionally, if a person shows a high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, they will have routine blood tests, known as complete blood count (CBC) and vitamin B12 blood test level, to check the amount of vitamin B12 present.

If a vitamin B12 deficiency is detected, there are a few different treatment options available, including:

  • Vitamin B12 injections or folic acid pills: They are typically used in severe cases of vitamin B12 deficiency and are given in weekly doses to help regulate vitamin B12 levels.
  • Dietary Supplements: In less severe cases, taking supplements containing vitamin B12 (including multivitamins) can help provide adequate vitamin B12.
  • Fortified foods: Especially for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, certain foods and drinks that are fortified with vitamin B12 can help compensate for the lack of the nutrient typically found in most animal products.
person taking orange pills

Sources of vitamin B12

There are many foods and drinks that contain higher amounts of vitamin B12. They generally fall into two categories: foods that contain B12 naturally and those that include it artificially for additional nutrients known as fortified foods.

Foods that naturally contain vitamin B12

Some examples of foods that naturally contain the nutrient include:

  • Cow liver
  • Clams (shelled, cooked)
  • Tuna
  • Citrus fruits
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Beef
  • Leche
  • Yoghurt
  • Queso
  • There
  • Beans
  • Spinach

Fortified foods containing vitamin B12

Some examples of fortified foods that artificially contain the nutrient B12 include:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Non-dairy milk (some)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • tofu
  • Fortified fruit juices
  • Some meat substitutes
  • Dairy-free yogurt (some)

When to talk to your healthcare provider

One of the biggest issues surrounding vitamin B12 deficiency is how subtle the symptoms can be. The human body stores a large amount of vitamin B12, meaning that even when you are not actively absorbing the nutrient from foods or supplements, it can take years before a vitamin B12 deficiency manifests.

With symptoms that can also be confused with other conditions or illnesses, it can be difficult to know when to see a doctor. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Contact your doctor if you experience multiple symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency: Regardless of the cause, if you have ongoing symptoms, such as nausea, difficulty concentrating, or muscle weakness, it is important to contact your healthcare provider and ask about having a blood sample taken. test to determine your vitamin B12 levels.
  • If you experience new or worsening symptoms: If your doctor has already told you that you have low vitamin B12 levels and you develop new or worsening symptoms, contact your healthcare provider right away.