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The richest food sources of vitamin B12 come from meat, fish, and milk sources. Some vegan vitamin B12 sources are available, but for maximum vitamin B12 benefits, you would have to eat a lot of tofu to get close to 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 per week. How can you avoid vitamin B12 deficiency on a vegan diet?
Are you getting enough vitamin B12?
The RDA for vitamin B12 is minimal- only a few mcg of B12 per day. However, according to various scientific studies, people who receive doses upwards of 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 per week reported experiencing increased stamina, mental focus, and feelings of wellbeing.
Non-vegan sources of vitamin B12:
Clams: One 3-ounce serving of cooked clams contains 84.1 mcg of vitamin B12.
Liver: After clams, liver is the richest source of vitamin B12. A 3-ounce serving of cooked lamb liver contains a whopping 72.8 mcg of vitamin B12.
Fish eggs: A 3-ounce serving of whitefish caviar provides 56.4 mcg of vitamin B12.
Mackerel: Mackerel has 19 mcg of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
Vegan sources of vitamin B12:
Soymilk: An 8-ounce cup of soymilk provides a mere 2 mcg of vitamin B12, give or take.
Tofu: A typical serving of tofu provides 1.86 mcg of vitamin B12.
Marmite: Yeast spreads contain 0.5 mcg of vitamin B12 per 100 grams, or 0.03 per teaspoon.
Are you at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency?
There are many ways to get vitamin B12 deficiency, but they generally boil down to this:
Either you don’t eat enough foods that have vitamin B12, or you eat plenty of fish and meat, but you’re not digesting the B12.
Lack of intrinsic factor (a hormone necessary for digesting vitamin B12)
Drug interaction (metformin, PPIs)
Gastrointestinal surgery (gastric bypass)
Getting extra vitamin B12
If you don’t have B12 deficiency, but you want to boost stamina, maintain a healthy weight, or enhance cognitive functioning by increasing vitamin B12 levels, then your choices are:
Become a seafood lover, or
Supplement with vitamin B12 for life.
Which B12 supplements are available?
There are different kinds of B12 vitamins, some of which require a doctor’s prescription.
Vitamin B12 shots: If diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia, then your doctor might prescribe 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 injections per week, or as needed. A prescription is required, and many patients find that their fatigue symptoms return before the next scheduled vitamin B12 shot.
Sublingual vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 tablets that dissolve under the tongue are available with or without prescription. Vitamin B12 pills are not efficient ways to access vitamin B12, and they often require you to take 3 doses throughout the day.
Side effects of sublingual vitamin B12 may include burning sensations on tongue and unpleasant taste.
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How do you get your vitamin B12- from supplements in pill form, vitamin B12 shots, or otherwise?
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Part I of Brain Fog: 20 Causes and symptoms covered reasons some people get brain fog, and the many ways brain fog interferes with daily activities. Part II of Brain Fog covers ways to deal with chronic forgetfulness, fatigue, and disorientation that make up brain fog from B12 deficiency, fibromyalgia, or other illnesses.
How to deal with brain fog
Obviously, the most important thing to do in dealing with brain fog is to treat whatever’s causing it. If you think you have vitamin B12 deficiency, then get a blood screening. You could have pernicious anemia resulting from low B12 (cobalamin) levels, or fibromyalgia, which is correlated with vitamin B12 deficiency. In that case, the simple answer is to supplement with extra vitamin B12.
Here are some excellent lifestyle tips for getting around brain fog:
Take your vitamins and minerals. Besides getting enough vitamin B12, you should also be getting enough of all the other B vitamins, in addition to vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium.
Sleep. Avoid naps, but stay regimented in your nighttime habits.
Treat your pain symptoms. This one’s a no-brainer. The fact is, pain distracts you, even when you don’t realize it. If you suffer migraines, and your current migraine treatment isn’t working, then explore other options. The same goes for chronic pain like fibromyalgia- never give up on lasting pain relief!
Exercise! This is difficult when you have chronic pain, but even small efforts at maintaining a fitness plan can be therapeutic. Try to incorporate stretching into your morning routine, or take small walks. Tai chi and yoga are particularly helpful for people with fibromyalgia.
Try an elimination diet. You never know- your brain fog could be a result of allergic reactions like gluten intolerance or milk allergy.
Eat brain food. Some foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and nuts. Stick to lean proteins and plenty of fruits and veggies.
Check your blood sugar. Brain fog is a common symptom of diabetes, so make certain that you’re not getting type 2 diabetes.
Limit caffeine. The rush you get from drinking strong coffee is only temporary. It is always followed by fatigue, or for some, brain fog.
Avoid processed foods. There is a substantial body of evidence indicating that cutting out white flour, white sugar, processed snack foods, and stripped grains (white rice) from your diet prevents chronic fatigue and brain fog, in addition to promoting healthy weight loss.
Try alternative medicine. Holistic and homeopathic medicine is becoming more mainstream as an alternative to some prescribed medications in treating chronic illness symptoms like pain and brain fog. Some good ones to try include acupuncture/acupressure, herbal supplements, and biofeedback.
Look into cognitive training. Researchers are finding that exercising your thinking skills is an effective way to reverse cognitive dysfunction, or brain fog. Examples of cognitive training are video games, websites, or programs like Wii that promise to improve your memory, regain mental clarity, and think quicker.
Think ahead. Sometimes, it helps to be prepared in life’s situations, especially if you have brain fog on a daily basis. Always think out a scenario in your head beforehand, and imagine ways you might make things easier on yourself. If you’re worried about going on a job interview, look up tips for landing a job and creating a good impression.
Rehearse what you’re going to say. Back to the job interview- go over the basic questions that people ask you when you’re interviewing for a position, and decide what you’re going to answer, ahead of time. This way, you won’t be put on the spot when your future-boss asks you what traits you like the least about yourself. (Hint: There is no real answer to this one.)
Take it slow. Don’t try to cook a dinner for five in five minutes. Even if it means running late, pace yourself. People with brain fog are more susceptible to serious injury when they try to do things in a hurry, so give yourself extra time to do things.
Stay organized. This is the secret to success with brain fog. If you have one place where you always keep your scissors, then you won’t waste valuable time searching all over your house every time you need to open a package or cut the tags off a new outfit.
Keep a good perspective. A good sense of humor can get you through chronic pain, brain fog, anxiety…anything. In fact, some studies have been done which show that chronic illness sufferers who try to achieve happiness and look for the “sunny side” in life are more successful at eventually conquering their symptoms and healing their pain than those for whom the glass is always half-empty.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s okay to admit that you don’t understand something- even if it’s been explained to you three times already. Don’t pretend to “get it” when you don’t. The results can be social awkwardness, feelings of isolation, and worse- injury. (Know how the electric meat cutter works before you lose a finger!)
Tools are helpful, so use them. If you have a smartphone, iPad, or other tablet device, then make it work for you. You don’t have to remember phone numbers, dates, directions, shopping lists, passwords, or birthdays. That’s what your Android is for!
Relax. Another no-brainer: learning how to relax is instrumental in relieving stress, which is a common cause of brain fog.
Seek counseling. If things seem too overwhelming, and you don’t know what to do about it, talk it out with a professional. Everybody who visits a shrink every now and then isn’t mentally ill…just human.
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Vitamin B12 deficiency causes pernicious anemia, which creates horrible symptoms like painful tingling in your hands and feet, numbness, chronic fatigue, memory loss, depression, and even chronic clumsiness. What’s really behind all these debilitating symptoms, you wonder? Deranged DNA…
You’re mad, I tell you- Mad!
Pernicious anemia (PA) tends to creep up on you, like a scary monster in a B movie. You might not even realize you have B12 deficiency until you start noticing weird symptoms. Your hands and feet fall asleep on you while you sit at your computer. It feels like thousands of fire ants are crawling up your legs. Sometimes, you could swear that your mouth was on fire, like you ate a red chili pepper.
Only you didn’t…
Then PA attacks your brain, causing brain fog. You struggle to find the right words in conversation, left hanging while you awkwardly try to remember what you were trying to say. You walk into a room and immediately forget what you came in for. You forget to buy things on your mental shopping list. You wake up feeling drugged, exhausted, even though you had plenty of sleep the night before.
If you didn’t have your name printed clearly for you on your driver’s license, you just might forget it…
Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disorder in which your body interferes with production of a very necessary protein- intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor is produced in your stomach, and you need it to digest vitamin B12 (cobalamin). Without intrinsic factor, your body cannot extract vitamin B12 from food sources like beef, chicken, fish, and eggs. Instead, the vitamin B12 just passes through your intestines, without ever entering the blood stream.
Say goodbye to B12…
DNA production goes awry
If pernicious anemia sounds frightening, it’s because it does wicked things to your body. You need vitamin B12 for many important bodily functions, like protecting the nervous system, enhancing cognitive development, and maintaining adequate supplies of energy.
Most importantly, your red blood cells need vitamin B12 for DNA synthesis. With pernicious anemia, DNA synthesis in the red blood cells comes to a standstill, while RNA synthesis keeps chugging along.
And then, things get really weird…
Franken-DNA is born
The result is microcytic anemia, a type of megaloblastic anemia causing enlarged red blood cells. Not only are your blood cells too big to function normally, but they are also deformed. Your poor large red blood cells remain trapped inside your bone marrow, unable to leave because they have grown enormous in size.
Remember Alice, trapped in the White Rabbit’s house? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
Hey, where’re all the red blood cells at?
Trapped in your bone marrow! And your body needs red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. But with vitamin B12 deficiency, very few red blood cells manage to escape their “prison” in your bones, because they are too big to exit. Your red blood cell levels go way down, and you start to feel tired, anxious, and wiry.
Managing macrocytic anemia is simple enough if you know what’s causing it. Pernicious anemia from low B12 levels is just one cause. Other causes of enlarged red blood cells are alcoholism and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), among others. With alcoholism, B12 deficiency symptoms can still be the underlying cause of macrocytic anemia.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated with vitamin B12 supplements. However, if your body can’t digest vitamin B12 because of lack of intrinsic factor, then you will have to use vitamin B12 supplements that bypass the digestive system and go directly into the bloodstream.
Examples of vitamin B12 supplementation used for pernicious anemia are routine B12 shots and sublingual B12 pills. The B12 shots require a doctor’s prescription, and can be painful, as they have to be inserted into thick muscular tissue. B12 pills are readily available over-the-counter (OTC). Many patients have reported a burning sensation while using sublingual B12 tablets that dissolve under the tongue.
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Read more about pernicious anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency
Fibromyalgia sufferers, listen up: It’s no secret that forgetfulness is one of the many symptoms of chronic pain syndromes. “Brain fog” makes it hard to remember important schedules, to-do lists, and…what was I going to say? You have enough on your plate without having to worry about whether or not you took all your fibromyalgia pain medications, what time the pharmacy opens, or what website you used to order your vitamin refills.
If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad, then use it to your advantage! Here are some great tricks that let you get the most chronic pain management out of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod without spending a cent.
Trick #1: Pimp your home screen!
Dilemma: “My favorite website doesn’t have an app!” Let’s say that you like a website, and you use it often to order vitamins, prescription refills, or other necessities that you can’t live without. You want to be able to access this site immediately from your iPhone home screen…but there isn’t an app for that. You can make your own custom icon and stick it on your home screen! Here’s how it’s done:
Go to your favorite page.
Click on the arrow at the bottom of the screen.
Now, choose “Add to Home Screen.”
The official title of the home page is Vita Sciences but you can change it; just remember to keep it short and easy to identify.
That’s it! Now you have a shiny new custom-designed icon on your home page that you can’t get at the iTunes store. This is a great trick that you can use for any and all websites. Use it for pages that you use often, or just for something that you want quick access to in case of emergency. Pretty nifty, huh?
Trick #2: Set up vitamin and medication alerts!
The iTunes app store offers lots of daily reminders that are inexpensive. You can track everything from your menstrual period, to your food diet points, to your bill schedule. Sure, you could buy a pill reminder for 99-cents, but why bother? Your iPhone already came with an excellent calendar, and it’s just humming to remind you to take your pain medications, vitamin supplements. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to program it, either. Here’s how:
Go to your calendar. Click the “+” sign at the top right corner to add an event. (Question: When did remembering to take your pain medicine become an event? Answer: Since brain fog became one of the symptoms.)
Okay. Type in all the important details, like name of event, location (Behind the ear), repeat sequence (weekly), and most importantly, alert time. Steve Jobs must have foreseen that fibromyalgia patients would need to use it, because he cleverly programmed two alerts to remind you to take your vitamins; one initial reminder, and then another one, in case you already forgot the first warning. This is an essential tool for people who are forgetful, which is anybody who suffers from:
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Chronic fatigue syndrome
And here’s your gentle reminder to take your vitamin B12!
Trick #3: Get these great apps!
Here are some free iTunes apps that are worth a second look:
This is the Chronic Pain Tracker Lite: This free app lets you document your pain history in a way that is simple and functional. You can keep track of pain triggers, pain severity, location of pain, medications, and even add your own personal notes. This free version allows you to list up to 20 entries. If you really like it, then you can get the paid version for $14.99, which is still cheaper than getting a health coach.
Also free, the Medscape app is a great tool for accessing up-to-the minute information on pain treatments, breakthrough scientific research, and common pain symptoms. It’s like having a medical encyclopedia in your pocket, only much lighter. ;-)
Trick #4: Use Google Maps to find your nearest pharmacy- quick!
Google Maps is another excellent iPhone tool for people who have trouble remembering where their closest pharmacy is, even if you’ve been using them for prescription refills for the past 15 years.
Bingo! I knew Walgreens was somewhere around that neighborhood, give or take a few miles.
Trick #5: Follow the leaders on Twitter!
Finally, you don’t like to be in the dark. 24-7, people are talking about things that importantly impact your life; things like
You want to join in on the conversation, and be “in the know,” right? The best way to do that is to follow them on Twitter. This way, if the Fibromyalgia Society decides to coordinate an impromptu Occupy Fibromyalgia sit-in, you’ll be one of the first to respond.
We won’t be leading any protests any time soon, but we do keep you informed on the many topics related to vitamin B12 deficiency, like pernicious anemia symptoms, gastrointestinal disorders, gastric bypasses, diabetes, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disorders, and of course, fibromyalgia.
The elderly need to increase their intake of vitamin B12, in order to avoid memory loss from vitamin B12 deficiency. Brain loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is sometimes a part of the aging process, but by getting enough vitamin B12 in your blood, you can prevent suffering the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Chicago study links low levels of vitamin B12 with memory loss
A 2011 study that focused on 121 community-dwelling participants of the Chicago Health and Aging Project found a strong correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and memory loss. Scientists measured methylmalonate levels to determine vitamin B12 deficiency.
They found a direct relationship between low levels of vitamin B12, reduced brain volume, and decreased cognitive skills, such as loss of short-term memory.
Scientists noted poorer memory skills, slower thinking processes, and impaired comprehension skills as attributes associated with elevated methylmalonate levels- an indicator of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Also considered were plasma homocysteine levels, which scientists also connected with loss of brain mass. High levels of homocysteine are common in vitamin B12 deficiency.
Scientists concluded that methylmalonate, an indicator of vitamin B12 deficiency, has a direct impact on brain volume, and that vitamin B12 has multiple benefits on brain chemistry beyond just memory skills.
In 2008, a UK study conducted by the University of Oxford produced similar results; namely, that vitamin B12 deficiency is a likely cause of brain atrophy, dementia, and short-term memory loss among the elderly.
For the elderly, eating foods with vitamin B12 isn’t enough
Eating plenty of foods rich in vitamin B12 is always a good idea; such foods include protein sources like beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese. But for the elderly, the problem isn’t really eating enough sources of vitamin B12, but rather digesting them. Part of the aging process involves making less stomach acids that are necessary for absorbing vitamin B12 from foods. As a result, many elderly individuals who include meat in their diet still run a high risk for getting B12 deficiency.
Unless blood tests indicate healthy levels of vitamin B12, senior citizens must supplement with vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) with a routine prescribed B12 shot in order to avoid the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Memory loss in B12 deficiency for the young and old
It isn’t just the elderly who should be concerned with memory loss- short-term memory loss is one of many symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, regardless of age.
Numerous studies linking elevated homocysteine with mental illness prove that symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency caused by low B12 (cyanocobalamin) in the blood are often mistaken for mental health issues, such as depression, dementia, and schizophrenia.
What is homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid that your body makes when you eat meat products. Having too much homocysteine in your blood supply causes damage to your arteries and increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
What is B12, and how does it regulate homocysteine?
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that occurs exclusively in animal-based foods such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and milk products. Some of the riches sources of vitamin B12 are organ meats (liver, heart), oysters, and clams.
Together with vitamin B6 and folic acid, vitamin B12 helps break down homocysteine and keep them at a safe, healthy level. Without sufficient stores of these essential vitamins, homocysteine levels would escalate, leaving you at a high risk for developing diseases associated with elevated homocysteine levels, such as neurological impairments and cardiovascular disease.
Elevated homocysteine plasma levels are one of many symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
What illnesses are associated with elevated plasma homocysteine levels?
Scientists believe that homocysteine is behind a wide variety of conditions and illnesses, from visual problems and eating disorders, to heart disease and schizophrenia.
Currently, most scientists agree that elevated homocysteine levels share a significant correlation with the following diseases:
Atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries)
Increased risk of heart attacks
Increased risk of strokes
How many studies link elevated plasma homocysteine levels with mental illness?
A growing number of scientific studies prove a significant correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency, homocysteine levels, and mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, depression, chronic fatigue, dementia, and even eating disorders in women.
1- In Beersheva, Israel, a study focused on treating patients of Alzheimer’s and cerebrovascular disease with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 supplements. In this randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, scientists of Ben Gurion University noted dramatic cognitive benefits in patients who received the vitamin supplements.
2- In Boston, Massachusetts, a Tufts University study linking low vitamin B12 and cognitive impairment in the elderly noted a direct correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and anemia, macrocytosis, and cognitive problems such as dementia.
4- Elevated plasma levels of homocysteine in females with eating disorders were also the focus of this German study that linked excessive homocysteine with depression, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
5- A Swedish study on older patients with mental illness concluded that age and plasma homocysteine levels more accurately predict cognitive functioning skills than brain imaging, as measured by the Mini mental state examination (MMSE).
Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency and mental illness:
For years, vitamin B12 has been the staple energy vitamin for stars such as Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and Prince. Now, B12 vitamins are part of Glee star Lea Michele’s regimen against vitamin B12 deficiency. Find out why celebrities such as Lea Michele rely on B12 supplements for added stamina, strength, and mental focus.
The Glee star’s secret to weight loss
How does Lea Michele, who plays the bossy, competitive, (and sometimes infuriating) Rachel on Glee keep her figure? Recently, she confessed to following a strictly macrobiotic vegan diet, composed of mostly vegetables, grains, and beans. By cutting out meat, chicken, and dairy products from her diet, Lea has managed to lose ten pounds since she first started filming on the set.
Lea admits to also eating a few servings of fish per week, in order to avoid getting vitamin B12 deficiency. Since Vitamin B12 occurs only in animal-based foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk, supplementing with extra vitamin B12 is crucial for avoiding low B12 blood levels. How does she justify introducing a non-vegan source into her vegan diet? Apparently, macrobiotic veganism makes special allowances for seafood. Lea Michele understands that a diet low in vitamin B12 is a diet that leads to B12 deficiency symptoms.
People who deplete their stores of vitamin B12 encounter symptoms such as extreme fatigue, muscular weakness, depression, diminished coordination, memory loss, and frequent numbness or tingling sensations (pins and needles) in their hands, arms, legs, and feet. Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency may escalate into severe memory loss, neurological damage, osteoporosis, and increased risk for heart attack, and stroke.
Did you know that Vitamin B12 is one of the most important vitamins for bones? Osteoporosis is one of many illnesses triggered by vitamin B12 deficiency. Studies prove that elderly individuals who maintain high levels of vitamin B12 are less likely to suffer from fractured or broken bones than those who neglect to supplement with vitamin B12 shots.
What is the cause of osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis happens with age for millions of Americans- there exist many factors that cause loss of bone mass, brittle bones, and other symptoms of osteoporosis. Low calcium absorption is one cause of broken bones and fractured hips in old age, but other causes include:
Estrogen deficiency in women
Testosterone deficiency in men
Smoking and alcohol use
Vitamin deficiency, including calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12
What is B12 deficiency?
Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs from neglecting to eat a diet rich in sources of vitamin B12, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk, but it can occur if your body is unable to extract vitamin B12 from foods that you eat. Such is the case for millions of individuals, either because
(a) they lack “intrinsic factor,” a protein required for digesting vitamin B12 naturally from foods
(b) because of drug interactions, such as metformin for diabetes, or
(c) because of post-gastrectomy complications that resulted in pernicious anemia.
Unless treated, B12 deficiency causes red blood cell depletion, neurological damage, dementia, osteoporosis, malnourishment, and increased risk for heart attack, stroke.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are:
Numbness and tingling sensations in hands and feet
Altered taste perception
Red, swollen tongue
Unusually pale complexion
What do studies say about the benefits of vitamin B12?
In a study conducted by Tufts University that focused on low-plasma vitamin B12 and bone mineral density (BMD), researchers found that men who had the lowest levels of B12 in their blood also had the lowest bone mineral density, particularly in their hipbones. Similarly, women who suffered vitamin B12 deficiency exhibited severely low BMD in their spine.
They concluded that vitamin B12 deficiency is a significant risk factor for osteoporosis, which explains why the loss of bone mass occurs so frequently among the elderly:
As you age, your body produces fewer stomach acids needed for digesting vitamins and minerals.
As a result, many senior citizens develop vitamin deficiencies, including B12 deficiency. Since they are unable to absorb B12 through the digestive system, they must therefore deposit it directly into the bloodstream.
Another study by the University of Michigan recognized severe osteoporosis as correlating strongly with pernicious anemia-vitamin B12 deficiency.
What are the best vitamins for osteoporosis?
It is crucial to eat a diet rich in all essential vitamins and minerals, in addition to taking regular vitamin supplements. The best vitamins for bonesare vitamin D and vitamin B12.
If you suspect you have vitamin B12 deficiency, then ask your doctor for a blood test. If diagnosed, then you will require routine vitamin B12 supplements until your B12 levels are back to normal.
Read more about preventing vitamin B12 deficiency:
If you’re having trouble finding balance, B12 deficiency might be the culprit. Symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency- dizziness and nerve damage like ataxia (unsteady gait, difficulty keeping balance), and numbness or tingling in hands and feet require B12 supplements.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in all meat, cheese, and egg products, but if you are one of millions of people who cannot absorb B12 efficiently, then you will start feeling symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. Some common emotional and cognitive signs of B12 deficiency are:
Chronic fatigue, sleepiness
Nerve damage caused by B12 deficiency
In addition to psychiatric symptoms, vitamin B12 deficiency causes severe damage to your nerves, notably subacute combined degeneration (SCD)of the spinal cord- a severe neurological disorder caused by B-12 deficiency. SCD causes damage in your spinal cord, brain, and peripheral nerves, beginning with the myelin sheathe.
1- The myelin sheathe- your nervous system’s “ozone layer”
The myelin sheath is a protective covering that surrounds many of your nerves, providing a shield from potential danger. The myelin sheathe also accelerates communication between your nerves and your many bodily sensors (hands, feet, tongue, nose, eyes). Vitamin B12 aids your body in maintaining this essential protective mechanism, and low levels of B12 often result in a breakdown of the myelin sheathe.
2- Communication breakdown
The nerves of your spinal cord rely on a steady inflow of information from your nerve sensors throughout your body. Messages from the nerves in your legs, for example, flow along the spinal cord and to the brain, thus controlling movements like running, walking, skipping, and tapping your feet. Nerve damage causes these signals to become misinterpreted, resulting in poor coordination, or gait ataxia.
3- Gait ataxia- taking the spring out of your step
A typical sign of abnormal neurological behavior resulting from B12 deficiency is gait ataxia, which is difficulty walking. Gait ataxia is also one of the symptoms of perniciousanemia, red blood cell disease associated with prolonged vitamin B-12 deficiency. Symptoms of gait ataxia are:
Unsteady gait, difficulty walking without stumbling
Difficulty staying balanced on one leg
Trembling awkward movements, clumsiness
Muscular weakness in the legs and arms
Hypotension (low blood pressure)
Vision problems, blurriness
4- Paresthesias- “pins and needles” and numbness sensations
An early sign of nerve damage related to vitamin B12 cobalamin deficiency is paresthesias, resulting in numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. Paresthesias is a kind of peripheral neuropathy that affects the peripheral nerves that run along your spinal cord and to your extremities, thus causing that pins and needles sensation that you often feel in your hands and feet.
Do you have vitamin B12 deficiency? Go ask a hematologist.
The only way to determine if you are indeed suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency is by getting a blood test. If a physician diagnoses you with dangerously low levels of B12, then he may recommend B12 injections, which will require a prescription.
Vitamin B12 benefits your nervous system and many other biochemical reactions; Find out how Vitamin B12 supplements can help you live a healthier lifestyle.
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin) is an essential nutrient that occurs naturally in protein food sources, such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. The B12 vitamin is one of the B-complex vitamins. Other B vitamins are vitamin B9 (folate) and vitamin B3 (niacin).
Vitamin B12 is important for many bodily functions. B12 helps your body produce red blood cells, regulates your nervous system, boosts your immunity, and protects cognitive functioning. Some other benefits of vitamin B12 include lowering your risk for heart attack and stroke by regulating homocysteine levels.
The best way to get enough vitamin B12 in your diet is by eating plenty of lean meats, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Foods that have the highest levels of vitamin B12 are clams, oysters, beef liver, and halibut.
However, eating B12-rich foods does not guarantee against vitamin B12 deficiency. Some people are unable to digest B12 naturally from foods, and must take B12 supplements in order to avoid symptoms of malnourishment, such as fatigue, depression, irritability, numbness in hands and feet, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating.
Most physicians prescribe vitamin B12 shots,sublingual B12, or b12 vitamins after diagnosing B12 deficiency.