Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

B12 is a key factor in the overall health and well being of everyone on the planet. The renewing of cells and tissue, the formation of red blood cells and DNA synthesis are the main work of B12. A deficiency of this particular complex vitamin can have far reaching repercussions, some symptoms and damage being reversible while others become permanent. Understanding the signs of B12 deficiency can assist in maintaining health and vitality while staving off the potentially serious symptoms and effects that can do harm.

Considering the adult body’s ability to store 3 to 5 years worth of B12 in the liver, it can take quite a while for signs to be revealed. Once the symptoms begin to manifest, someone is already facing a chronic shortage in B12 intake. Infants and children will display signs much earlier because their ability to store B12 is limited by smaller livers.

The manifestations of B12 deficiency are many. Couple that with the varying degrees of severity of each symptom and diagnosis can difficult. However, being aware of what those signs are in any form can give a person the opportunity to correct the problem before any serious or long term repercussions occur.

The following is a list of potential symptoms that could indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency:

• Paleness of the skin

• Irritability

• Weakness

• Shortness of breath

• Confusion

• Malabsorption

• Weariness

• Increased heart rate

• Tingling, burning and/or numbness in the extremities

• Pain in the tongue and mouth

• Diarrhea

• Paranoia

• Light-headedness

• Nerve damage

The best way to avoid any of the aforementioned signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is to understand what causes the low levels. In many cases the simplest answers are not taking in enough B12 or increased need. Generally these can be easily remedied with an increase in B12 either through vitamin rich foods or supplements. Other causes can be more serious and have their foundation in various medical conditions. Stomach acids are responsible for separating B12 from the proteins found in consumed foods. A shortage of stomach acid results in a shortage of B12. Likewise, the dearth of intrinsic factor, a substance that binds to B12 before absorption, will cause deficiency. Autoimmune disorders, Celiac disease, kidney or liver disease, alcoholism, certain medications, surgical removal of part of the stomach or intestine and excessive bacteria in the digestive system can also make maintaining healthy levels of B12 difficult. Seeking the advice of a physician is imperative if a medical condition is the potential culprit.

Eating foods rich in B12, supplements and in some more severe cases, B12 injections can help to avoid any lasting symptoms of prolong low levels. It is always best to consult a doctor if other medical conditions are involved, however, to know best how to proceed.