Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions 

vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms

Vitamin B-12, or methylcobalamin, is an essential element of our healthy diet and vitamin B12 deficiency can be avoided. It is among the necessary 8 Vitamins which are required to convert our food into glucose to produce energy in the body. A sufficient amount of Vitamin B-12 has many advantages to our system as mentioned below:

  • Helps in producing DNA elements
  • Makes sure that our body has the appropriate cells for the formation of red blood cells
  • It provides a refinement of the gastrointestinal and respiratory system
  • Sufficient amount of Vitamin B-12 helps in keeping the nervous system working including the functions of the spinal cord
  • It helps in the prevention of megaloblastic anemia

 

Causes of Vitamin B- 12 Deficiency

Sometimes individuals have a Vitamin B12 deficiently due to various reasons1. The common causes are the following:

  • Celiac Disease

  • Crohn’s Disease

  • Weakened immune system

  • Pernicious Anemia

  • Grave’s Disease or Lupus

 

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause damage to your body and you can suffer from:

  • Nervousness and muscle weakness

  • Muscle stiffness and muscle spasticity

  • Fatigue and incontinence

  • Low blood pressure

  • Mood disturbances

A severe disease that can occur from vitamin B-12 deficiency is megaloblastic anemia. It is a disorder in the body the results in the production of oversized and immature blood cells. As a consequence, the number of healthy red blood cells is reduced, which is required to carry oxygen around the body.

 

Who Is At Risk Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Veganism or Vegetarianism

It is so common among vegans because typical vitamin B12 sources (meats, yogurt, etc.) are simply not present in their diets.

Do note that since the liver stores this vitamin, if you go vegan or stop eating vitamin B12 foods, your B12 stores can last for 3 to 5 years. The symptoms of B12 deficiency will start showing up after that period.

Heavy Drinking

More than moderate levels of alcohol consumption can significantly reduce B12 absorption and may deplete bodily stores.  Alcohol irritates the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestines. When the stomach lining is irritated, it produces less hydrochloric acid and may secrete less intrinsic factor too, both of which contribute to reduced B12 absorption from food.

Long-Term Intake of Antacids

Antacids neutralize the effect of stomach acids. But your body needs gastric acid to activate certain enzyme reactions to absorb vitamin B12. Hence, using antacids on a long-term basis may result in the malabsorption of vitamin B12.

Weight Loss Surgery

Since B12 is absorbed by first combining with a protein called intrinsic factor produced in the stomach portion of the  gut, which then has to travel down the small intestine to an area called ileum for it to be absorbed properly, many people that have gastric surgeries that alter the anatomy a bit end up with low B12.

Atrophic or Autoimmune Gastritis

Gastritis is the inflammation or erosion of the stomach lining and it can be of 2 types – atrophic or autoimmune. Both conditions destroy the cells of the stomach lining and reduce the production of hydrochloric acid, thereby affecting the absorption of vitamin B12 from food. You might have to take B12 supplements to mitigate the deficiency since the gastritis diet may exclude meat and milk products, except yogurt.

Pernicious Anemia

Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease that affects the gastric mucosa and results in gastric atrophy. This leads to the destruction of parietal cells, achlorhydria, and failure to produce intrinsic factor, resulting in vitamin B12 malabsorption.

Malabsorption of B12 In The Small Intestine

Many stomach and intestinal diseases can affect cobalamin (or vitamin B12) absorption in the small intestine like small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease.¹⁰

Breastfeeding by a Vitamin B12 Deficient Mother

Vitamin B12 deficiency is very common in infants born to vegan or vegetarian mothers. Both unborn and newborn babies have a special need for vitamin B12 and if the mother is a vegetarian or a vegan, this need may not be met either through her diet for the unborn or through her breast milk for the newborn. A study has shown that the prevalence of the deficiency among infants is about 45%.¹¹

Age above 50 Years

With age, the decrease in stomach acid secretion and the quantity of the digestive enzyme pepsin results in diminished absorption of vitamin B12. Older people with gastrointestinal problems are more susceptible to deficiency. People over 50 years of age may show neurological changes due to vitamin B12 deficiency, resulting in increased cases of nerve and mental disorders among the elderly.

Genetic Factors

It has been identified that vitamin B12 absorption could be the result of a hereditary gene mutation. The mutated genes can not only inhibit B12 absorption but also lead to abnormalities in the blood and brain.¹²

 

Medications That Can Cause Vitamin B12 Deficiency 

  • Aspirin

  • Antihypertensive drugs

  • Antacids

  • Antibiotics

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Oral contraceptives

  • Metformin

  • Statins

Signs And Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, you could become anemic. A mild deficiency may cause no symptoms. But if untreated, it may lead to symptoms such as:

  • Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness

  • Pale skin

  • Beefy, red, smooth and sore tongue¹³

  • Constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or bloated stomach

  • Numbness or tingling sensation, muscle weakness, and problems with walking

  • Vision loss

  • Depression, memory loss, or behavioral changes

  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath

  • Loss of hearing and tinnitus

 

vitamin b12 deficiency

 

Benefits of Vitamin B12

  • A sufficient amount of Vitamin B12 allows you to sleep better and improve weight loss. This helps to keep the metabolism of the body running smoothly which will indirectly positively influence body weight.
  • A controlled level of B12 helps to regulate metabolism and makes us feel at our best throughout the day.
  • An adequate amount of Vitamin B12 helps balance out mood disorders
  • Maintaining the required amount of vitamin B12 level will be helpful in maintaining good bone health.
  • Macular degeneration is an eye disease which starts affecting your central vision due to deficiency of Vitamin B12. By regulating B12, It will prevent the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
  • The lack of Vitamin B12 can cause memory loss, especially in older adults. Vitamin B12 injections will prevent brain atrophy, loss of neurons leading to memory loss or dementia in old age.
  • The risk of heart disease increases with B12 deficiency because homocysteine levels become elevated.
  • Another role of vitamins B12 in the body is cell production, which is responsible for producing healthy hair, skin, and nails.

 

Start the Change Today

Vitamin B12 deficiencies in the body can be rectified through a healthy diet or injections. It is responsible for many bodily functions and may benefit your health in various ways as discussed above. Even with a healthy diet, you could be deficient in B12. In that case, you should opt for injections.

Get your vitamin B12 injection from The HCG Institute. There’s no reason to continue moping on the couch; you can have a healthier and happier living style! We are dedicated to assisting you in achieving that goal. The use of injections will help you in reducing weight and feeling better.

 

Medical References

1. Wang  H, Li  L, Qin  LL, Song  Y, Vidal‐Alaball  J, Liu  TH. Oral vitamin B12 versus intramuscular vitamin B12 for vitamin B12 deficiency. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD004655. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004655.pub3.