Welcome to the Vitamin B12 blog! Find information on topics related to vitamin B12. This blog is dedicated to providing up to date research, news and resources pertaining to vitamin B12, general health information surrounding the benefits of vitamin B12. Learn from, and contribute to information on B12, vitamin B12 and other connected subjects. Feel free to participate in blog discussions and contribute your opinion on the related topics covered in the Vitamin B12 blog.
About 40% of us have vitamin B12 deficiency, but most don’t even know it…and neither do our doctors. Until we start experiencing crushing fatigue, nerve pain, and memory loss, vitamin B12 deficiency slips completely of the doctor’s radar.
The vitamin B12 deficiency crisis
Vitamin B12 is one of the most essential nutrients for human health, but we are only able to store it in small amounts. According to Dr. Donald W. Jacobsen, a world-famous cell biologist who has studied vitamin B12 deficiency for several decades, every single cell in our body requires vitamin B12 for survival.
Yet, many of us don’t have nearly enough, due to escalating risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency that correlate with modern lifestyle changes and comorbid health conditions.
Dr. Jacobsen also names FDA recommendations as part of the B12 deficiency problem, as the suggested minimum of 160-250 picomoles per liter of blood is hardly sufficient to prevent chronic ailments, such as fatigue, depression, muscle pain, dementia, and heart palpitations.
Unless caught in time, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to irreversible nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy), increased risk for heart disease and stroke, dementia, and bone loss. And the vitamin B12 levels that most doctors are told to use as their reference guide is simply not enough.
Because once the symptoms of vitamin B12 have set in, you may already be in dire need of immediate replenishment.
In numerous studies, prolonged vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked with:
Diagnosis and treatment
A blood test may indicate severe vitamin B12 anemia, a potentially lethal, debilitating condition, but not necessarily borderline vitamin B12 deficiency that nevertheless causes a series of ailments. For that reason, it’s important that your doctor take into consideration any symptoms you have that may indicate the need for more vitamin B12 in making a proper diagnosis.
Since vitamin B12 is safe to take in any amount, many patients find the most benefit when they take extra vitamin B12, including vitamin B12 shots complemented by additional doses of non-dietary vitamin B12.
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please leave your comments below.
Share with your friends!
If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.
If you feel tired all the time, then join the club- the vitamin B12 deficiency club, which is becoming the top cause of chronic fatigue allover. Vitamin B12 is crucial for brainhealth, and if you don’t get enough, you run the risk of suffering the red blood cell disease pernicious anemia- one of many vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.
Why am I so tired all the time?
Fatigue causes you to feel sluggish, slow, confused, and constantly in a “brain fog.” You’re exhausted before you even step out of bed, and all day at work. On the drive home, you catch yourself several times nodding off at the wheel. By the time you’re ready to pack it up and call it a day, you’re almost too tired to change into your pajamas, sorely tempted to climb into bed, clothes, shoes, and all.
Why are you so tired all the time? Many conditions can cause chronic fatigue, and most of them begin with vitamin B12 deficiency.
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is of the vitamin B complex vitamins, and occurs in foods like beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. Some of the best sources of vitamin B12 are organ meat, lean turkey, crabmeat, halibut, and yogurt. Normally, sufficient amounts of B12 are stored in your liver, unless you are prone to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Tiredness is at the core of the most common symptoms of B12 deficiency: depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety, short-term memory loss, disorientation, trouble concentrating or remembering words, painful numbness or tingling in hands and feet, loss of balance while walking, muscular feebleness, and insomnia.
Here are some illnesses and chronic conditions linked to vitamin B12 deficiency:
Sometimes, pernicious anemia is the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 helps your body produce healthy red blood cells needed to carry oxygen. With pernicious anemia, you have a shortage of vitamin B12, which leads to a shortage of red blood cells, which in turn causes a severe reduction in oxygen throughout your body, including the brain.
The resulting effect is overwhelming tiredness, lightheadedness, and an inability to concentrate.
Scientists found that a high correlation exists between vitamin B12 deficiency and sufferers of fibromyalgia, an autoimmune disease that causes symptoms such as severe pain, skin sensitivity, sleep problems, and chronic fatigue.
People with gastrointestinal disorders such as IBD- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis- have extreme difficulty absorbing vitamin B12. Symptoms such as sluggishness, diarrhea, and unexplainable exhaustion might be confused with IBD symptoms; in fact, vitamin B12 deficiency is a likely culprit that often is overlooked.
Vitamin B12 supports cognitive functioning- low B12 levels are common among people suffering from severe psychological disorders, including schizophrenia, clinical depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). Tiredness is one of many complaints of people suffering from depression and anxiety.
Vitamin B12 helps your body regulate the amount of homocysteine in your blood. High levels of plasma homocysteine are strongly associated with heart disease and stroke. By breaking down homocysteine, and thus reducing the risk for heart disease or stroke, vitamin B12 promotes cardiovascular health.
Treatment for B12 deficiency
A blood test is necessary in order to diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency. Not all doctors screen for low B12, so you will need to request a plasma vitamin B12 test. If necessary, your doctor will prescribe B12 injections or sublingual B12.
Good news for vitamin B12 users- you might have discovered the secret to the Fountain of Youth! Vitamin B-12 is the preferred health supplement of Jack Lindsley, who just celebrated his 100th birthday. Find out what makes this B vitamin one of the best nutrients for old age in your pharmacy.
Jack Lindsley is a 100-year-old D-day veteran who just celebrated his birthday. He has served in World War II, married the love of his life, and worked in the postal service for 28 years. After his wife passed away in 1990, this retired firefighter dedicated his life to volunteer work.
Walk into the Doylestown, Pennsylvania hospital mailroom, and you’ll find Jack smiling and joking with other mailroom attendants while patiently sorting the mail. “The most pleasant man to be around,” Jack Lindsley has an infectious personality and a talent for dispensing good old-fashioned advice…
“I do cooking to my liking. Breakfast could be all three meals – I like bacon, eggs, and pancakes.” Meat, fish, cheese, and eggs- these are all food sources that are rich in vitamin B12. Jack also likes cooking meatloaf- another dish high in vitamin B12.
As far as healthy living routines go, Jack swears by his old standbys- aspirin and vitamin B12 supplements every day.
What makes vitamin B12 the best anti-aging vitamin?
Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy metabolism, as it helps your body convert fat into energy.
Vitamin B12 is good for your heart. B12 lowers your homocysteine levels, thus decreasing your chances of suffering from a heart attack or stroke.
Vitamin B12 supports cognitive functioning. Scientists discovered that vitamin B12 promotes healthy brain mass. Older individuals who take extra doses of vitamin B12 receive the benefits of good memory skills, mental focus, and overall peace of mind. They are also less likely to experience symptoms of aging, such as forgetfulness, mood disorders, and confusion.
Vitamin B12 sustains hair growth. By avoiding B12 deficiency, you reduce your chances of symptoms of aging like premature baldness and hair whitening. Vitamin B12 also promotes skin elasticity, for fewer wrinkles.
Vitamin boosts energy. When your vitamin B12 levels run dry, you feel increasingly fatigued, depressed, disoriented, and confused. By taking regular vitamin B12 supplements, you avoid getting vitamin B12 deficiency, and guarantee normal energy levels and mental clarity.
Vitamin B12 supports bone health. In a scientific study, elderly individuals who had the highest levels of vitamin B12 in their blood experienced significantly lower levels of bone loss than those who had the lowest levels of B12.
Read more about vitamin B12 and symptoms of aging:
If you have vitamin B12 deficiency, then it is important to recognize the symptoms of pernicious anemia, as low levels of B12 (cobalamin) may be caused by this form of megaloblastic anemia, a potentially life-threatening disease.
What is pernicious anemia?
Pernicious anemiais a digestive disorder that causes vitamin B12 deficiency. Because one of the side effects involves grossly misshapen and enlarged red blood cells, pernicious anemia has been classified as a type of megaloblastic anemia.
With pernicious anemia, your body is unable to digest vitamin B12 from food sources, due to a lack of the intrinsic factor digestive enzyme. As a result, after several years, your vitamin B12 stores plummet to a dangerous low.
Since vitamin B12 is crucial for all sorts of biochemical reactions, such as protecting your nerve cells through myelin production, converting fat into energy, and supporting red blood cell production, the results of pernicious anemia can be debilitating.
Avoid vitamin B12 deficiency
The best way to avoid getting vitamin B12 deficiency is to include animal-based protein foods in your diet, particularly beef liver, clams, oysters, poultry, eggs, milk, and yogurt.
Still, eating meat and dairy products does not guarantee you will not become deficient in vitamin B12, as there are many risk factors that can inhibit proper absorption of this vitamin.
Who’s at risk?
People at risk for developing B12 deficiency are:
people who exclude primary sources of vitamin B12 from their diet (vegans)
people who have had bariatric surgery
diabetics taking metformin
anybody using long-term medication for acid-reflux
individuals with gastrointestinal disease (IBD, celiac)
people who cannot produce intrinsic factor, a necessary hormone for digesting vitamin B12
Signs of megaloblastic (pernicious) anemia
The most common symptoms of pernicious anemia are:
Frequent tingling or numbness in your hands and feet, described as “pins and needles”
Difficulty walking balanced
Loss of appetite
Swollen, red tongue
Chronic fatigue, constant tiredness
What tests diagnose pernicious anemia?
The only way to find out if your vitamin B12 deficiency has turned into pernicious anemia is to request the following diagnostic tests:
Complete blood count (CBC)
Vitamin B12 blood levels
Methylmalonic acid (MMA) levels
Holotranscobalamin II levels
Bone marrow examination
What is the treatment for pernicious anemia?
Patients of pernicious anemia need to get routine doses of vitamin B12 supplements, usually in the form of vitamin B12 shots. The amount and frequency of B12 injections depend on the severity of the pernicious anemia symptoms.
For extra doses of vitamin B12 between doctor visits, B12-anemia patients have the option of supplementing with over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12, as well.
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.
Vitamin B12 supplements essential as part of your weight loss program. What are the benefits of vitamin B12 for weight loss? Vitamin B12 boosts metabolism, in addition to providing energy and stabilizing your mood.
Vitamin B12 contains cobalt; together, the minerals that make up vitamin B12, cobalamin, are essential coenzymes that increase metabolism by converting food to energy in the body. In diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency, researchers often take into account changes in the metabolic rate, in addition to measuring levels of B12 and homocysteine.
“Elevated methylmalonic acid levels might be a more reliable indicator of vitamin B12 status because they indicate a metabolic change that is highly specific to vitamin B12 deficiency.” - National Institutes of Health
People with high metabolisms tend to lose weight more quickly and efficiently than others who have slower metabolic rates. In order to burn fat at an optimal rate, it is essential to maintain healthy stores of vitamin B12.
B12 boosts energy
If you have symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, then you experience symptoms such as tiredness, muscular weakness, decreased motor skills, and lack of energy.
Unfortunately, many people who suffer symptoms of low B12 don’t even know it. Often, comorbid conditions such as clinical depression, anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, diabetes, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), or hypothyroidism (low thyroid) mask the signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. So, despite taking treatments such as antidepressants, insulin, thyroid medications, or pain relievers, they continue to feel sad and tired all the time, battling with constant “brain fog” without knowing why.
Increasing your energy level provides mental focus, determination, and emotional wellness, in addition to improving your quality of life. These things together assure weight loss success by enabling you to stick to a workout routine, increase your sports performance and stamina, challenge yourself in the gym, and stay on track.
B12 boosts mood
Common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety, paranoia, and unusually aggressive behavior. When you are in a bad mood, you are more likely to make poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drug use, oversleeping, eating fattening, salty or sugary foods, and sedentary activities like television watching and playing video games.
Scientists have proven a high correlation between depression and weight gain. If you feel sluggish, depressed, or more fatigued than usual, then you are statistically less likely to follow an exercise regimen or commit yourself to a new weight loss diet.
Only by taking vitamin B12 supplements can you begin to recover from symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and achieve an overall sense of well-being.
Being tired all the time is a symptom of B12 deficiency, but it can also signal hypothyroidism (low thyroid), a thyroid disease that occurs with lowB12 levels. Because hypothyroid symptoms are similar, vitamin B12 deficiency often goes undetected.
B12 deficiency causes fatigue, depression, and other mood disorders often associated with an underactive thyroid. If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroiditis, then it’s also important also to recognize the symptoms of B12 deficiency, and know whether you might require more vitamin B12 (cobalamin).
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) that occurs in the thyroid gland, causing inflammation, and reducing its ability to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. Hashimoto’s disease is one example of thyroiditis that causes low thyroid levels.
Sometimes, thyroid treatment for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), such as radioactive iodine or surgery, can backfire, causing underactive thyroid symptoms.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that is responsible for making red blood cells, controlling DNA synthesis, regulating the nervous system, and improving cognitive functioning. Without proper levels of vitamin B12, you may suffer neurological damage, dementia, or heart attack resulting from elevated homocysteine levels.
In a study conducted in Sapir Medical Center, Kfar Saba, Israel, patients with autoimmune thyroid disease received blood screening for vitamin B12 deficiency. Researchers noted a significantly high percentage of people with AITD who also had vitamin B12 deficiency caused by pernicious anemia, a disease that inhibits proper absorption of vitamin B12.
Another study conducted in Pakistan by Aga Khan University produced similar results; namely, a 40% prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency among patients with hypothyroidism.
If you are a patient of hypothyroidism, then physicians strongly recommend routine blood testing for vitamin B12 deficiency, regardless of thyroid hormone levels.
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.