Women at any age, whether pregnant or not, often suffer low levels of Vitamin B12 leading to severe health complications. Knowing about the signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency can help you stay alert and reduce permanent health risks such as infertility.
This problem is common across the globe. According to research published in Annuls of Nutrition & Metabolism in 2018, more men have Vitamin B12 deficiency than women.
Most pregnant or breastfeeding women often develop Vitamin B12 deficit within the first few months. Besides, as more people are turning toward veganism, they are becoming susceptible to a nutritional deficit.
In this article, I’m sharing 8 super scary Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms and how you can overcome the shortage. Let’s start with the basics first.
What is Vitamin B12?
Before we begin with the signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency, it’s necessary to first understand what this mineral is.
Vitamin B12, medically known as cobalamin (a water-dissolving vitamin) and commonly called red vitamin, is packed with essential nutrients needed by your body for smooth functioning.
This vitamin is not generated by the body itself. Rather, you obtain it from animal-based foods.
Here are a few reasons why your body needs sufficient Vitamin B12 levels:
- Proper red blood cells production to prevent anemia
- Adequate body fat processing
- Improve brain functions such as memory
- Energy boost to avoid fatigue
- Reduce the risk of gastritis
- Ensure normal infant development
Learn more in this blog post. ✅
What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficit?
Although many risk factors cause Vitamin B12 deficiency, I’m discussing a few common ones below:
Age is an important factor when it comes to Vitamin B12 deficiency.
As you grow older — especially after 50 years — your body can’t carry out metabolic activities normally. Crohn’s disease or celiac disease can also affect your ability to absorb essential nutrients.
If you suffer from gastric infections such as digestive problems or have had any gut-related surgeries, your body might not be able to absorb Vitamin B12 efficiently.
Other times a weak immune system can make you prone to infections and affect your ability to consume this vitamin.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is also common in people who follow a special dietary lifestyle — such as strictly plant-based or vegan foods. You must understand several alternative options before quitting a certain type of food.
Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is also common in women who have heavy periods or suffered blood loss during pregnancy or surgery. This condition inhibits your ability to absorb the vitamin, leading to anemia.
What to Do if You Have Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms?
The most effective way to confirm is to get your lab test done for Vitamin B12 deficiency. They ask for a blood sample to check your Vitamin B12 levels against the normal range.
The normal range of Vitamin B12 for women in between 190 and 950 pg/mL. Any number below 200 pg/mL is a sign of B12 deficit and you might want to visit a physician ASAP.
Your doctor would prescribe supplements and recommend some lifestyle changes to improve the Vitamin B12 levels. You might be asked to add more meat, fiber-rich cereals, or poultry food to your diet.
The table below by Medscape highlights how much daily dose of Vitamin B12 do women need:
|>19 years old||2.4 mcg|
|Pregnant women||2.6 mcg|
|Breastfeeding women||2.8 mcg|
Since we’re currently in the middle of a global pandemic and unable to visit hospitals or labs unnecessarily, you should know about Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms to prevent any lasting health complications.
8 Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Here are 8 symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency you should look out for:
Low levels of Vitamin B12 in the blood often results in immense fatigue and unnecessary tiredness.
Because of the inability to absorb this crucial nutrient, you might not be producing enough red blood cells to carry freshly generated oxygen to the organs.
As a result, your body won’t be able to function efficiently. You’ll feel a severe lack of energy and muscle stiffness.
Notice the subtle changes. For example, even though you enjoy a good night’s rest but still wake up super-tired or you are unable to perform simple routine chores.
This problem is more common in older people. If not treated on time, it could turn to Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.
2. Canker Sores
Some of the earliest Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are visible in the mouth, especially on the tongue. You might feel tongue inflammation, itching, or tingling. There could be a change in the appearance as well — the tongue would appear beefy red or swollen.
Additionally, the deficit causes mouth ulcers or canker sores, medically known as Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis.
These small sores develop on the gums or inside the mouth wall. They can be quite painful and need to be treated ASAP. Otherwise, you might not be able to eat anything!
Canker sores are more common in kids or young adults particularly because they are not big fans of B12 food sources. However, the deficiency can be met through supplements if the situation gets worse.
3. Mood Shifts
Depression, irritability, getting annoyed very often and anxiety are also a few signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Nutritional deficiencies – particularly low levels of folate and Vitamin B12 – mess up the hormone balance, causing sudden mood shifts. Increased stress isn’t good for your wellbeing and might even lead to permanent health complications.
Look out for sudden outbursts and feeling like your emotions are out of control. Feeling overwhelmed often or lack of productivity is also an alarming symptom of Vitamin B12 deficiency.
These problems might occur because you’re not getting enough Vitamin B12 or your body is unable to absorb the mineral.
Here are more scary signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency 👇
4. Blurry Vision
Blurry eyesight is also among the initial signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency.
As I mentioned earlier, as your body is unable to carry fresh blood to your organs because of vitamin lack, your vision might suffer as a result.
Additionally, low levels of Vitamin B12 harm the nervous system. The deficit can damage the optic nerve, responsible for flawless vision, leading to blurry or disturbed eyesight.
Scientists call this condition Vitamin B12 deficiency optic neuropathy. If left untreated, you might lose the ability to see colors.
5. Pale Skin Patches
Yellow and pale skin, also called jaundice, is one of the most serious signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Low B12 levels can affect the DNA’s ability to instruct your body on how to produce fresh red blood cells. These cells are responsible for giving a reddish tinge to our skin. This leads to a condition called megaloblastic anemia, causing abnormal blood cell production in the blood marrow.
These cells are quite delicate and breakdown easily, releasing bilirubin into your system. As a result, you might notice pale spots on certain parts of your body and even a yellow shade in the white region of your eye, indicating a deficit of Vitamin B12.
6. Nervous System Issues
Neurological problems or disturbed nervous system could also be a Vitamin B12 deficiency symptom.
“Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause unusual neurological symptoms such as tremor, gait disturbance, severe pain, and can mimic multiple sclerosis or even Parkinson’s Syndrome.”UK-based physician Dr. Jeffery Dach
At any age, iron deficiency or improper vitamin absorption can affect your brain’s processes in many ways. B12 deficit destroys the upper covering of nerves and leads to improper functioning of your body.
Nerve damage could cause numbing or tingling in feet or hands. Many women often experience movement issues such as dizziness or losing balance while walking. In the elderly, it can lead to severe complications such as falling or fractures.
Also, because of the effect on the brain, you might notice cognitive impairment such as forgetfulness and difficulty in learning. If left untreated, seniors could develop a high risk of dementia.
Because of the low levels of Vitamin B12, your organs can’t function properly as there’s little supply of fresh red blood cells. As a result, you might face several digestive problems, including constipation.
If you haven’t pooped in more than 3 days, you have constipation, my friend.
Vitamin B12 ensures your stomach, intestines, colon, and rectum digest and expel the food smoothly. Any deficit can paralyze the internal lining of your tummy and restrict intestinal function.
I would recommend adding lots of healthy fiber-filled foods to your diet as they allow proper digestion and bowel movement.
If you notice constipation along with the other signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency, visit a physician for an expert diagnosis.
Last but not the least, infertility and sexual dysfunction are also clear Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms. If you are unable to get pregnant, you or your partner might be a deficit in B12.
According to a 2019 study published in Clinical Medicine Insights: Women’s Health, a shortage of essential minerals can affect fertilization and implantation, rendering you infertile for a short period.
Low levels of Vitamin B12 during pregnancy can also lead to a serious birth defect known as neural tube defect — the abnormal growth of the spinal cord and brain. This condition can cause your baby to be born without properly developed spine, brain parts, or brain outgrowth.
I hope you now know various signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Experts recommend looking out for mineral deficit symptoms so you can seek timely drug therapy from a physician and avoid permanent health damage.
If you’ve had any similar issues because of Vitamin B12 deficiency, please share your experience for awareness in the comments below.