Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the production of your red blood cells and DNA, as well as the proper functioning of your nervous system. It is naturally found in animal foods, including meats, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. And it can be found in products fortified with B12, such as some varieties of bread and plant-based milk.
Unfortunately, B12 deficiency is quite common. You’re at risk of deficiency if you don’t get enough from your diet or aren’t able to absorb enough from the food you eat.
Those most at risk of a B12 deficiency are:
- The elderly
- Those who’ve had surgery that removes the part of the bowel that absorbs B12
- People on the drug metformin for diabetes
- People following a strict vegan diet
- Those taking long-term antacid drugs for heartburn
But symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to show up, and diagnosing it can be complex. Here are 9 signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency:
People with a B12 deficiency often look pale or have a slight yellow tinge to the skin and whites of the eyes, a condition known as jaundice.
Weakness and fatigue are common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
This is because your body doesn’t have enough vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body. So you can’t efficiently transport oxygen to your body’s cells, making you feel tired and weak.
Nerve damage is one of the more serious side effects of a long-term B12 deficiency. Your nerves are surrounded by a substance called myelin. This protects and insulates them.
Without B12, myelin is produced differently, and your nervous system isn’t able to function properly. Pins and needles in your hands and feet is one common sign of this.
If untreated, the damage to your nervous system caused by a B12 deficiency could cause changes to the way you walk and move and affect your balance.
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. You can also get mouth ulcers and pins and needles in the mouth.
If you become anemic due to a B12 deficiency, you may feel short of breath and a bit dizzy, especially when you exert yourself. This is because your body lacks the red blood cells it needs to get enough oxygen to your body’s cells.
One symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency is blurred or disturbed vision. This is caused by damage to the optic nerve.
People with B12 deficiency often report changes in mood.
A very rare but occasional symptom of B12 deficiency is a very high temperature or fever.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common and can show up in various ways, making it hard to identify.
So if you’re at risk and have any of the symptoms above, speak to your doctor.
Still, for many people, a B12 deficiency should be easy to prevent simply by making sure you are getting enough B12 in your diet. But some, especially at risk groups, will find B12 supplements really valuable.
Forever Living has an ideal B12 supplement which is vegan-friendly and gluten-free. And it also contains folic acid which is especially important during pregnancy.
See how much it can help your health and wellbeing: