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Posts Tagged ‘symptoms B12 deficiency’

I Eat Healthy…So How did I Get Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013



Many people who are diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency are surprised to learn that their vitamin B12 levels have been plummeting for years, despite exercising and following a healthy low-fat diet. Here are some risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency, and warning symptoms that many doctors overlook.

I Eat Healthy…So How did I Get Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Nearly half of the American population has some form of vitamin B12 deficiency, and most don’t even realize it…

Only after you go to the doctor for symptoms of tiredness, depression, memory loss, or painful numbness, and are told after taking a blood test that your vitamin B12 levels have been dropping steadily for several years does B12 deficiency finally come under the radar.

Also read: Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency a Crisis?

Why does vitamin B12 deficiency happen?

There are many risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency, but for the most part, they can be broken down by 1) diet, and 2) vitamin B12 malabsorption.

Vitamin B12 deficiency from diet

Two out of three people diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency aren’t getting enough in their diets.

Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal-based foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. As a result of low-fat and vegan dieting, many of the foods that are highest in vitamin B12 have all but disappeared from the average American diet.

How often do you consume the following B12-rich foods?

  • Clams
  • Oysters
  • Crab
  • Halibut
  • Organ meats (liver, heart, kidneys)
  • Lean beef

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet…

If you have been advised to shun beef in favor of low-fat turkey and chicken (which have very small amounts of vitamin B12)…

Or if you consume mostly restaurant or processed foods, then you aren’t getting nearly enough vitamin B12 in your diet to prevent severe depletion by the time you reach your 30s and 40s.

Vitamin B12 malabsorption

Another third of people who suffer from severe vitamin B12 deficiency are unable to digest the nutrient efficiently from food sources.

So, even if you eat plenty of meat and fish- and even in you take regular vitamin B12 pills- you may still develop potentially life-threatening and debilitating vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, if you fall into any of these qualifying risk factors:

  • You are over the age of 50, so unable to produce enough stomach acids to break down vitamin B12
  • You have a family history for pernicious anemia
  • You have autoimmune disorders, including an intrinsic factor antibody that occurs with pernicious anemia, preventing you from absorbing vitamin B12
  • You have had stomach or intestine surgeries, either for weight loss, treatment of ulcers, or Crohn’s disease
  • You have some form of atrophic gastritis
  • If you suffer from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, celiac, or other commonly comorbid conditions

What Causes Vitamin B12 Malabsorption?

Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency

Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to severe nerve damage, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, bone loss, dementia, clinical depression, and rarely, death.

Here are some often overlooked signs that may indicate vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • Depression
  • Constant fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Hallucinations
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Brain fog
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Tinnitus (ear ringing)
  • Painful numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness and spasms
  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Sore, red smooth tongue
  • Difficulty controlling arm and leg movements
  • Frequent falling and dropping things

Top Ten Signs of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency


Doctors recommend at least 1,000-2,000 mcg doses of vitamin B12, taken as needed- once monthly or weekly, depending on the severity of symptoms.

Since vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient, it is perfectly safe to take as much as you need in order to replenish vitamin B12 levels and alleviate symptoms that occur with vitamin B12 deficiency.

For optimum absorption and effectiveness, patients should use non-dietary vitamin B12 supplements that are secreted directly into the bloodstream, and do not require swallowing or digestion through the stomach.

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Like this? Read more:

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Image courtesy of Ambro/freedigitalphotos

What your Gums have to Say about your B12 Level

Thursday, May 26th, 2011



Are bleeding gums a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency? If your body isn’t getting enough vitamin B12, it will let you know in many ways. You might experience symptoms such as fatigue, nerve pain, and memory loss, in addition to change in the appearance of your hair, skin, nails, and gums. That’s your brain telling you to eat some more foods that have B12, such as lean meat, fish, eggs and cheese.


You also need vitamin B12 in order to produce plenty of red blood cells. People who suffer vitamin B12 deficiency from pernicious anemia are at risk for depletion of red blood cells and severe nerve cell damage.

Getting Enough Vitamin B12? Three Reasons Why You Might Not Be

Swollen Gums

Bleeding and swollen gums can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. Some clear signs are painful, sore gums that bleed every time you brush or floss. Additionally, you might also have gingivitis, a gum disease. If soreness and redness persists, see a dentist, as well as your doctor for a vitamin B12 blood screening test.

Pale Gums

Aplastic anemia occurs when your body stops making enough red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, causing many different bodily functions to malfunction.

  • Low red blood cells mean that your body is not getting hemoglobin, which in turn can cause fatigue, dizziness, headaches and cold hands and feet. Checking your B12 level will determine if vitamin B12 deficiency is causing your anemic condition.
  • Low white blood cells signals a low immunity. White blood cells are needed to fight infections, so a deficiency of white blood cells could result in autoimmune disease, fever and frequent flu-like symptoms. (Also read AIDS with B12 Deficiency.)
  • Blood platelets are used to stop the bleeding when you get a cut. A low platelet count often causes multiple bruising, pale gums that bleed, nosebleeds and cuts that don’t heal.

Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

In addition to regulating your red blood cell supply and brain functions, vitamin B12 is also essential for monitoring DNA synthesis, restricting homocysteine levels and protecting the nervous system. Deficiencies of vitamin B12 may cause:

  • Sleep problems
  • Weakness
  • Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
  • Altered taste perception
  • Visual disorders
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased risk for stroke

For more info on preventing B12 deficiency, read:

Avoiding Vitamin B12 Deficiency while Breast Feeding

“I’ve heard of the X Factor and Fear Factor…But what’s Intrinsic Factor?”






Worried about Low B12 Lab Results?

Sunday, May 8th, 2011



Did your recent lab work point to vitamin B12 deficiency? A low vitamin B12 blood test is serious. Symptoms of B12 deficiency can include nerve damage, loss of red blood cells, and mood disorders.


What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient which your body extracts from food sources such as lean meats, dairy products, eggs and fish. Vitamin B12 is necessary for producing plenty of red blood cells, maintaining a healthy nervous system, regulating homocysteine levels and monitoring DNA synthesis. A blood test which results in low B12 levels means that some of these vital bodily functions could be malfunctioning.

What causes low B12 levels?

There are many factors which can cause your B12 levels to dip dangerously low; these include:

  • Lack of intrinsic factor, a protein which is necessary for proper digestion of vitamin B12 from natural food sources
  • Long-term use of heartburn or antacid medication
  • Following a vegan diet, which excludes foods which are rich in vitamin B12, such as beef, chicken, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs and fish.
  • Gastrointestinal conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or gluten intolerance
  • Weight loss surgery, such as gastric bypass surgery.
  • Read Anorexic British Teen Regrets Gastric Bypass Surgery

My lab test results indicate vitamin B12 deficiency. Should I be worried?

Due to the fact that it dissolves in water, your body is not able to hold vitamin B12 in the system for long; vitamin B12 must be constantly replenished through protein-rich foods or vitamin B12 supplements, in order to avoid becoming deficient in B12.

Regular lab blood testing is crucial for catching vitamin B12 deficiency before it has a chance to create any lasting impairment. If left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to life-threatening illness and irreversible damage. These include:

  • Increased risk for heart attack, due to elevating levels of homocysteine
  • Dementia
  • Irreparable nerve damage
  • Autoimmune disorder
  • Read AIDS with B12 Deficiency

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

Some low vitamin B12 symptoms are often misdiagnosed as diabetes, mental illness or thyroid disorder.

Below is a list of common symptoms caused by vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Difficulty maintaining balance while walking
  • Altered taste perception
  • Dizziness while sitting upright
  • Read: B12 Deficiency can really Get on your Nerves


If you are not able to utilize sufficient stores of vitamin B12 naturally, then you must supplement regularly in order to avoid B12 deficiency.

For chronically low B12 levels, doctors have often administered vitamin B12 injections until symptoms abate.

Sublingual tablets are also often prescribed as a preventative measure, but recent studies indicate that under-the-tongue B12 supplements are not the most effective sources of B12, as they are not wholly digestible.

Also read:

New Study: Diabetes Drug Metformin Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency

B12: Celebs Say it’s the New C



Are Vegans in France Responsible for Breast-fed Baby’s Death?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

March, 2011- In northern France, a vegan married couple faces trial after the death of their baby due to vitamin B12 deficiency; their daughter, who was exclusively breast fed even at the age of 11 months, became ill back in March of 2008 of vitamin deficiency. Morguefile, http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/48424Now the couple may face charges of neglect for refusing to include animal products in her diet.

Sergine and Joel Le Moaligou called an ambulance when they noticed that their baby daughter Louise seemed pale, unfocused and drained of energy, but by the time the emergency team arrived their daughter was already dead.

Most 11-month-olds weight approximately 8 kg (17.6 lbs), but at the time of her death Louise weighed only 5.7 kg (12.5 lbs).

Police believe that vitamin B12 deficiency lowered the baby’s resistance to infection and ultimately caused her to die of pneumonia.

Read Pregnant Moms and Low B12 Levels: Let ‘em Eat Steak!

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products such as lean red meat, fish, eggs and dairy foods.  B12 is essential for neurological development and production of red blood cells. The vegan diet specifically excludes all foods which are rich in vitamin B12, so a special effort must be made to include vitamin B12 supplements such as injections.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Fatigue, loss of energy
  • Irritability
  • Aggressiveness
  • Depression
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Altered taste perception
  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
  • “Brain fog,” unclear thinking
  • Dizziness

Left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency could lead to serious neurological damage or pernicious anemia.

While the infant Louise was fed milk, a rich source of vitamin B12, the fact that her vegan mother refused to eat animal products nor feed her animal products meant that she was deliberately neglected of this essential vitamin, say police.

The deputy prosecutor of the trial had this to say about the mother’s involvement in the death of her child: “The problem with a vitamin B12 deficiency could be linked to the mother’s eating habits.”

In addition to shunning animal products, the Le Moaligou family also eschews traditional medicine in favor of home-made remedies found in their collection of self-help books.

At her 9-month checkup, Louise was already suffering some of the symptoms of B12 deficiency, in addition to bronchitis and rapid weight loss; her parents were advised to admit her into a hospital, but refused, opting instead for non-traditional medical practices such as applying cabbage leaves, mustard and camphor. Parents also preferred to wash their baby with dirt and clay in lieu of soap and water.

The French couple, who also has a 13-year-old daughter, may face 30 years if found guilty.


The Guardian, Times Live, RFI

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