Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is one of the eight vitamins of the B-complex. Its deficiency, however, is not by any means a rare occurrence. That is especially the case with vegan, and vegetarian diet as B12 can only be found in animal products, such as meat, eggs, dairy, etc.
B12 deficiency can also be caused by gastrointestinal surgery, chronic alcoholism, Crohn’s disease, and most notably pernicious anemia.
With all this in mind, let’s talk about the symptoms, shall we? What follows is the list of 15 telltale signs of vitamin b12 deficiency that you should not ignore. So without further ado, let’s get right into it.
1 Your muscle strength is not what it used to be
Whether you are working long hours, or you’ve just switched to a more challenging fitness routine that requires lifting heavier weights in your gym, it’s perfectly normal for you to feel that your muscles are a bit weak from time to time.
But if you are having trouble performing the simplest of tasks such as carrying a backpack, or if bringing in the groceries feels like a nightmare, you could blame it on B12 vitamin deficiency and not on lack of protein as it is commonly believed. The reason for this is because your red blood cells are not receiving the right amount of oxygen which, of course, further leads to weakness in your muscles.
2 You suddenly get dizzy in certain situations
We have all gotten ourselves into situations when we are feeling dizzy during a sudden, movements. That is especially the case when climbing the stairs, or if we are quickly switching from a sitting to a standing position.
People often tend to associate dizziness with anemia, but B12 deficiency is also on top of the list, as it often goes hand in hand with anemia. Getting dizzy can also get quite dangerous, especially if you are climbing down the stairs. So if you are experiencing dizziness frequently, you should definitely talk to your doctor and check out your B12 level.
3 You are always tired, no matter how much sleep you get
Fatigue is, without a doubt, one of the most common symptoms of B12 deficiency. That comes as no surprise because if you lack B12 vitamin, then your body is having a hard time producing red blood cells which, as we all know, are absolutely necessary for spreading oxygen.
When you are feeling tired all the time, the first thing that comes to mind is, of course, lack of sleep. But if you are still tired despite getting a full 8 hours of sleep, then B12 deficiency could be the culprit.
4 You experience numbness and strange sensations in your body
Strange sensations, or so-called pins and needless, in your body, are the result of nerve damage which is the result of, you guessed it, low oxygen levels in cells, the product of B12 deficiency.
So next time you are feeling as if some kind of electric shock wave is streaming through your body after sitting cross-legged for a while, you should know that it probably has to do with your low B12 levels.
5 Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is one of the telltale signs of pernicious anemia which is, as we mentioned above, caused by a B12 deficiency. That is because B12 contributes to the production of hemoglobin, the oxygen-transport protein in your bloodstream, and lack of it makes it more difficult for the blood to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
6 Heart Palpitations
Speaking of pernicious anemia, we also have to mention one of its main symptoms known as heart palpitations, a condition that occurs when your heart is beating faster than 100 beats per minute, and you can feel the beats even in your neck.
The reason for this is simple, as heart needs to pump harder than normal because of a lack of red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood that is a direct result of B12 deficiency.
7 Optic neuropathy
The lack of B12 vitamin can also lead to decreased vision, which comes as no surprise given how vital this vitamin is for the optic nerve and a central nervous system in general. Having said that, one of the symptoms of optic neuropathy might include blurred or double vision, which all come as a result of the optic nerve damage caused by B12 deficiency.
8 Mood swings
If you are feeling depressed for no reason whatsoever, a B12 deficiency might be the surprising reason why. Because, after all, this crucial vitamin plays a large role in the production of the serotonin in your brain. It’s also worth noting that the insufficient amount of oxygen in the brain (caused by B12 deficiency) can lead to the inability of neurons to transmit signals through your body, which further leads to depression, anxiety, and other behavioral changes.
9 Weakened bones
B12 plays a significant role in forming the bone-building cells, just like calcium and vitamin D do. With that in mind, it’s only logical that its deficiency leads to a tissue loss, weak and fragile bones, which are all the characteristics of osteoporosis.
10 Changes in the Tongue
It is perfectly normal for people to have the small nipple-like bumps across the surface of their tongue also known as lingual papillae. What’s interesting, however, is that 50% of people who suffer from a B12 deficiency seem to lose these bumps resulting in sourness of the tongue.
11 Constipation and stomach discomfort
Having digestive issues may not always be the result of something you ate as there are many different reasons for this sort of problems, with B12 deficiency definitely being one of them. That’s because lack of B12 vitamin often means a lack of intrinsic factor, a protein necessary for B12 absorption.
12 Pale skin
Given the fact that the production of red blood cells relies heavily on the B12 level, it comes as no surprise that those who lack this vitamin usually have pale skin. What happens here is that the red blood cells are unable to divide due to B12 deficiency, so they are unable to pass out of bone marrow into blood circulation. As a result, there are not as many red blood cells in the bloodstream, so it is only logical that people who lack B12 vitamin would have a pale complexion.
13 Skin, hair, and nail problems
The health of your skin, hair, and nails largely depends on vitamin B12. So if you lack this crucial vitamin, they will most definitely suffer. Hair would become gray or even fall out, skin problems might include acne or skin lesions, and nails may take on a brown-gray color.
14 You are having trouble walking
As mentioned in one of the points above, the low levels of B12 vitamin damage the nervous system in the long run. So it comes as no surprise that it people affected by it would have trouble walking. Also, if left untreated, B12 deficiency might also affect the balance and coordination.
We all forget things from time to time, and it’s perfectly normal. Chronic forgetfulness on the other hand, not so much. So if you keep forgetting stuff, it might indicate some deeper medical issue. But you should not, by any means, jump to conclusions and think it’s dementia or Alzheimer’s decease because it can also be a sign of B12 deficiency.