Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

vitamin B12 deficiency
vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12, also referred to as cobalamin, is a crucial vitamin (1).

It plays an important role within the production of your red blood cells and DNA, also because the proper functioning of your systema nervosum .

Vitamin B12 is of course found in animal foods, including meats, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. However, it also can be found in products fortified with B12, like some sorts of bread and plant-based milk.

Unfortunately, B12 deficiency is common, especially within the elderly. You’re in danger of deficiency if you don’t get enough from your diet or aren’t ready to absorb enough from the food you eat.

People in danger of a B12 deficiency include (2):

  • The elderly
  • Those who’ve had surgery that removes the a 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

Unfortunately, symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to point out up, and diagnosing it are often complex. B12 deficiency can be mistaken for a folate deficiency.

Low levels of B12 can be the reason of your folate levels to drop. However, if you’ve got a B12 deficiency, correcting low folate levels may simply mask the deficiency and fail to repair the underlying problem (3).

Here are 9 signs and symptoms of a real vitamin B12 deficiency.

1.Pale or Jaundiced Skin

People with a B12 deficiency often look pale or have a small yellow tinge to the skin and whites of the eyes, a condition referred to as jaundice.

This happens when a scarcity of B12 causes problems together with your body’s red blood corpuscle production (4).

Vitamin B12 plays an important role within the production of the DNA needed to form red blood cells. Without it, the instructions for building the cells are incomplete, and cells are unable to divide (5).

This causes a kind of anemia called megaloblastic anaemia , during which the red blood cells produced in your bone marrow are large and fragile.

These red blood cells are overlarge to pass out of your bone marrow and into your circulation. Therefore, you don’t have as many RBC (Red Blood Cell) circulating around your body and your skin can appear pale in color.

The fragility of those cells also means many of them break down, causing an more than bilirubin.

Bilirubin may be a slightly red or brown-colored substance, which is produced by the liver when it breaks down old blood cells.

Large amounts of bilirubin are what give your skin and eyes a yellow tinge (6, 7).

If you’ve got a B12 deficiency, your skin may appear pale or jaundiced.

2.Weakness and Fatigue

Weakness and fatigue are common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.

They occur because your body doesn’t have enough vitamin B12 to form red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body.

As a result, you’re unable to efficiently transport oxygen to your body’s cells, making you are feeling tired and weak.

In the elderly, this sort of anemia is usually caused by an autoimmune condition referred to as pernicious anaemia .

People with pernicious anaemia don’t produce enough of a crucial protein called factor .

Intrinsic factor is important for preventing a B12 deficiency, because it binds with vitamin B12 in your gut in order that you’re ready to absorb it (8).

When you are deficient in B12, your body isn’t ready to produce enough red blood cells to effectively transport oxygen throughout your body. this may cause you to feel tired and weak.

3.Sensations of Pins and Needles

One of the serious side effect of a long-term B12 deficiency is nerve damage.

This can occur over time, as vitamin B12 is a crucial contributor to the metabolic pathway that produces the fatty substance myelin. Myelin surrounds your nerves as a sort of protection and insulation (9).

Without B12, myelin is produced differently, and your systema nervosum isn’t ready to function properly.

One common sign of this happening is paresthesia, or the feeling of pins and needles, which is analogous to a prickling sensation in your hands and feet.

Interestingly, the neurological symptoms related to B12 deficiency usually occur alongside anemia. However, one study found that about 28% of individuals had neurological symptoms of B12 deficiency, with none signs of anemia (10).

That said, sensations of pins and needles are a standard symptom which will have many causes, so this symptom alone isn’t usually a symbol of B12 deficiency.

B12 plays a crucial role within the production of myelin, which insulates your nerves and is critical to your systema nervosum function. a standard sign of potential nerve damage in B12 deficiency may be a sensation of pins and needles.

4.Changes to Mobility

If untreated, the damage to your systema nervosum caused by a B12 deficiency could cause changes to the way you walk and move.

It may even affect your balance and coordination, making you more susceptible to falling.

This symptom is usually seen in undiagnosed B12 deficiency within the elderly, as people over the age of 60 are more susceptible to a B12 deficiency. However, preventing or treating deficiencies during this group may improve mobility (11, 12, 13).

Also, this symptom could also be present in children who have a severe, untreated deficiency (14).

The damage caused by long-term, untreated B12 deficiency can affect your balance and cause changes to the way you walk and move.

5.Glossitis and Mouth Ulcers

Glossitis may be a term wont to describe an inflamed tongue.

If you’ve got glossitis, your tongue changes color and shape, making it painful, red and swollen.

The inflammation also can make your tongue look smooth, as all the small bumps on your tongue that contain your taste buds stretch out and disappear.

As being painful, glossitis can change the way you eat and speak.

Studies have shown that a swollen and inflamed tongue that has long straight lesions thereon might be an early sign of vitamin B12 deficiency (15, 16).

Additionally, some people with a vitamin B-complex deficiency may experience other oral symptoms, like Mouth Ulcers (feelings of pins and needles within the tongue or a burning and itching sensation within the mouth)’ (15, 17).

An early sign of B12 deficiency could also be a red and swollen tongue. This condition is understood as glossitis.

6.Breathlessness and Dizziness

If you become anemic thanks to a B12 deficiency, you’ll feel in need of breath and a touch dizzy, especially once you exert yourself.

This is because your body lacks the red blood cells it must get enough oxygen to your body’s cells.

However, these symptoms can have many causes, so if you notice that you simply are unusually breathless, you ought to speak to your doctor to research the cause.

SUMMARY: Anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency can cause some people to feel breathless and dizzy. this happens when the body is unable to move enough oxygen to all or any its cells.

7.Disturbed Vision

This can occur when an untreated B12 deficiency results in systema nervosum damage to the nervus opticus that leads to your eyes (18).

The damage can disrupt the nervous signal .It travels from your eye to your brain, impairing your vision. This condition is understood as optic neuropathy.

Although alarming, it’s often reversible by supplementing with B12 (19, 20).

In rare cases, the systema nervosum damage caused by a B12 deficiency can affect the nervus opticus . this will end in blurred or disturbed vision.

8.Mood Changes

In fact, low levels of B12 are linked to mood and brain disorders like depression and dementia (21, 22).

The “homocysteine hypothesis of depression” has been suggested as a possible explanation for this link (23, 24, 25).

This theory suggests that prime levels of homocysteine caused by low levels of B12 could cause damage to the brain tissue and interfere with signals to and from your brain, resulting in mood changes.

Some studies suggest that in certain people that are deficient in B12, supplementing with the vitamin can reverse symptoms (26, 27, 28).

It’s important to notice that changes to mood and conditions like dementia and depression can have a spread of causes. Thus, the consequences of supplementing in these conditions remain unclear (29, 30).

If you’ve got a deficiency, taking a supplement may help improve your mood. However, it’s not a substitute for other proven medical therapies within the treatment of depression or dementia.

Some people with B12 may show signs of a depressed mood or conditions characterized by a decline in brain function, like dementia.


A very rare but occasional symptom of B12 deficiency may be a heat .

It’s not clear why this happens , but some doctors have reported cases of fever that has normalized after treatment with low levels of vitamin B12 (31).

However, it’s important to recollect that prime temperatures are more commonly caused by illness, not a B12 deficiency.

On very rare occasions, one symptom of B12 deficiency could also be a heat.

The Bottom Line

Vitamin B12 deficiency is common and may happen in various ways, making it difficult to spot .


Maximum people can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by eating enough meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, egg and so on.

If you do not eat animal products, otherwise you have a medical condition that limits how well your body absorbs nutrients, you’ll take vitamin B12 during a multivitamin or other supplement and foods fortified with vitamin B12.

If you select to require vitamin B12 supplements, let your doctor know, so he or she will tell you ways much you would like , or confirm they will not affect any medicines you are taking .


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