Vitamin B12, also known as cobalin, is an important water-soluble vitamin. Do You Get Enough Vitamin B12? You will want to make sure what you do to stay healthy.
Vitamin B12 does a lot of things for your body. For example, it helps to make your DNA and your red blood cells.
Since your body does not make vitamin B12, you have to get it from animal-based foods or from supplements. And you should do this regularly, because your body does not store vitamin B12 for long.
How much will you get?
The answer depends on your age, including your eating habits and medical conditions, and what medications you take.
The average recommended amount, measured in micrograms (mcg), varies by age:
- Babies up to 6 months of age: 0.4 mcg
- Infants 7–12 months: 0.5 mcg
- Children 1-3 years of age: 0.9 mcg
- Children 4-8 years old: 1.2 mcg
- Children 9-13 years of age: 1.8 mcg
- Teens age 14-18: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and lactating 2.8 mcg per day)
- Adult: 2.4 mcg (2.4 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.0 mcg per day if breastfeeding)
It plays an essential role in the production of your red blood cells and DNA, as well as the proper functioning of your nervous system.
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal foods including meats, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. However, it can also be found in fortified products with B12, such as some varieties of bread and plant-based milk.
Unfortunately, B12 deficiency is common, especially among the elderly. If you do not get enough from your diet or you cannot absorb enough from the food you eat then you are at risk of deficiency.
Those at risk of B12 deficiency include:
- The elderly
- Those who had surgery remove the part of bowel that absorbs B12.
- People on the drug metformin for diabetes
- People who follow a strict vegetarian diet
- Those who take long-term antacid drugs for heartburn
Unfortunately, it can take years to show symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency, and it can be complicated to diagnose. A B12 deficiency can sometimes be mistaken for a folate deficiency.
A low level of B12 degrades your folate levels. However, if you have a B12 deficiency, then fixing a low folate level may suffer a deficiency and fail to correct the underlying problem.
Here are 9 signs and symptoms of a true vitamin B12 deficiency.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
1. Pale or pale skin
People with B12 deficiency often have a mild appearance or a pale yellow tinge of skin and white lining of the eyes, known as jaundice.
This happens when B12 deficiency causes problems in your body’s production of red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in the production of DNA required to make red blood cells. Without it, the instructions to form cells are incomplete, and cells are unable to divide.
It causes a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, in which the red blood cells produced in your bone marrow are large and fragile.
These red blood cells are too big to get out of your bone marrow and your circulation. Therefore, you do not have the form of red blood cells around your body, and your skin may appear yellow in color.
The fragility of these cells also means that many of them break down, leading to an excess of bilirubin.
Bilirubin is a slightly red or brown colored substance, produced by the liver when old blood cells break down.
There are large amounts of bilirubin which gives a yellow color to your skin and eyes.
Summary: If you have B12 deficiency, your skin may appear pale or jaundice.
2. Weakness and fatigue
Weakness and fatigue are common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
They occur because your body does not have enough vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body.
As a result, you are unable to efficiently transport oxygen to your body’s cells, making you feel fatigued and weak.
In the elderly, this type of anemia is often caused by an autoimmune condition known as malignant anemia.
People with dangerous anemia do not produce sufficient amounts of important proteins known as intrinsic factors.
The intrinsic factor is necessary to prevent B12 deficiency, as it binds with vitamin B12 in your intestine so that you can absorb it.
Summary: When you lack B12, your body is not able to produce enough red blood cells to effectively transport oxygen to your body. This can make you feel tired and weak.
3. Sensation of pins and needles
One of the more serious side effects of a long-term B12 deficiency is nerve damage.
This can happen over time, as vitamin B12 is an important contributor to the metabolic pathway that produces the fatty substance myelin. Myelin surrounds your nerves as protection and insulation.
Without B12, myelin is produced differently, and your nervous system cannot function properly.
A common sign of this happening is paresthesia, or the sensation of pins and needles, which is similar to the stinging sensation in your hands and feet.
Interestingly, neurological symptoms associated with B12 deficiency are usually accompanied by anemia. However, one study found that about 28% of people had neurological symptoms of B12 deficiency without any symptoms of anemia.
That said, the sensation of pins and needles is a common symptom that can have many causes, so this symptom alone is usually not a sign of B12 deficiency.
Summary: B12 plays an important role in the production of myelin, which stimulates your nerves and is important for the function of your nervous system. A common sign of possible nerve damage in B12 deficiency is sensation of pins and needles.
4. Changes in mobility
If untreated, damage to your nervous system due to B12 deficiency can lead to changes in the way you walk and walk.
Even this can affect your balance and coordination, making you more at risk of falling.
This symptom is often seen in unplanned B12 deficiency in the elderly, as people over the age of 60 are at greater risk of B12 deficiency. However, preventing or treating deficiencies in this group may improve mobility.
In addition, this symptom may be present in youth who have severe, untreated deficiencies.
Summary: The damage caused by long-term, untreated B12 deficiency can affect your balance and lead to changes in your way of walking and running.
5. Glossitis and mouth ulcers
Glossitis is a term used to describe an inflamed tongue.
If you have glossitis, your tongue changes color and shape, making it painful, red and swollen.
Swelling can also make your tongue smooth, because all the small bumps of your tongue make your taste buds go out and disappear.
Along with being painful, glossitis can change the way you eat and speak.
Studies have shown that the inflamed and inflamed tongue, which has long-term straight wounds, may be an early sign of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Additionally, some people with B12 deficiency may experience mouth ulcers, feelings of pins and needles in the tongue or other oral symptoms such as burning and itching in the mouth.
Summary: An early sign of B12 deficiency may be a red and swollen tongue. This condition is known as glossitis.
6. Shortness of breath and dizziness
If you become anemic due to B12 deficiency, you may feel short of breath and slightly dizzy, especially when you are exerting yourself.
This is because your body lacks red blood cells, which requires your body’s cells to get enough oxygen.
However, there can be many reasons for these symptoms, so if you notice that you are breathing abnormally, you should talk to your doctor to investigate the cause.
Summary: Anemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency can cause some people to have difficulty breathing and dizziness. This occurs when the body is unable to transport enough oxygen to all its cells.
7. Distracted vision
One symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency is blurred or disturbed vision.
This can happen when an untreated B12 deficiency causes the nervous system to damage the optic nerve that leads to your eyes.
Damage can disrupt the nerve signal that travels from your eyes to your brain, impairing your vision. This condition is known as optic neuropathy.
Although dangerous, it is often reversible by supplementing with B12.
Summary: In rare cases, nervous system damage from B12 deficiency can affect the optic nerve. This can result in blurred or disturbed vision.
8. Change of mind
People with B12 deficiency often report a change in mood.
In fact, low levels of B12 have been linked to mood and brain disorders such as depression and dementia.
“Homocysteine Depression of Depression” has been suggested as a possible explanation of this link.
This theory suggests that low levels of B12 can cause high levels of homocysteine to damage brain tissue and interfere with signals from your brain, causing a change in mood.
Some studies suggest that in some people who are deficient in B12, supplementation with vitamins can reverse the symptoms.
It is important to note that there can be many reasons for changes in mood and conditions like dementia and depression. Thus, the effects of complement in these conditions remain unclear.
If you have a deficiency, taking supplements can help improve your mood. However, it is not an alternative to other proven medical treatments in the treatment of depression or dementia.
Summary: Some people with B12 may show signs of a depressed mood or conditions due to a decline in brain function, such as dementia.
9. High Temperature
A very rare but sometimes symptomatic B12 deficiency is a high temperature.
It is not clear why this occurs, but some doctors have reported cases of fever that have returned to normal after treatment with low levels of vitamin B12.
However, it is important to remember that high temperatures are usually caused by disease and not by B12 deficiency.
Summary: On very rare occasions, a symptom of B12 deficiency can be high temperatures.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is common and can present itself in various ways, making it difficult to detect. If you are at risk and have any of the above symptoms, talk to your doctor.
For most people, a B12 deficiency should be easy to prevent so that you can get enough B12 in your diet.