15 Mar

10 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B-12 is an essential nutrient that all humans must get from their diet. Most dietary sources of vitamin B-12 are animal-based, such as meat, eggs, dairy, fish, and cheese. However, even with a proper diet, some people are deficient in vitamin B-12.

Benefits of Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 performs many roles within your body, including:

  • Forming new red blood cells
  • Synthesizing DNA
  • Assisting in brain and nerve function and development (all age levels)
  • Helping improve bone density
  • Lowering the amount of homocysteine in the bloodstream, possibly preventing macular degeneration and heart disease
  • Boosting serotonin production to improve energy and mood
  • Promotes regeneration of healthy hair, skin, and nails

Causes of Vitamin B-12 Deficiency

Vitamin B-12 is stored in your liver for up to five years. As you gain more vitamin B-12 through your diet, your liver’s stores are replenished. However, if you eat a diet without sufficient vitamin B-12 for long enough, such as a vegan diet, the stores in your liver will become depleted and you will begin experiencing signs and symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency. Along with not getting enough vitamin B-12 in their diets for long periods of time, people can also become deficient in vitamin B-12 due to:

  • Alcoholism and its effect on the liver
  • Aging
  • Any surgery that removes part of the stomach or intestines, such as bariatric surgery
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Atrophic gastritis
  • Immune disorders, such as Graves’ disease or lupus (SLE)
  • Taking medications that interfere with vitamin B-12 absorption, including some heartburn and diabetes medications

Vitamin B-12 Deficiency Signs and Symptoms to Know

If you are deficient in vitamin B-12, you may not notice any changes at first. However, as the deficiency worsens, you’ll start to notice some or all of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of color in the skin
  • A smooth feeling over the tongue
  • Gastrointestinal upset, including flatulence, constipation, and/or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Numbness or tingling in body parts
  • Problems walking
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of vision
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Unexplained behavioral changes

The signs and symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency are similar to several other conditions, so it’s important to be checked out by a licensed physician and to have blood work completed to determine if vitamin B-12 deficiency is the cause of your symptoms.

Quality Medical Care in Tampa Bay

If you believe you are deficient in vitamin B-12 and don’t have a medical provider, call Tampa Bay’s premier primary care team at Dr. Kavita Rao’s office at 727-525-0900 or contact us online. We can assess your condition, order the relevant lab work, and get you the treatment you need to start feeling better today!