6 Hidden Signs of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Unless you’re a vegan, you may seldom think much about the importance of vitamin B12. Found in meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs, vitamin B12 plays a key role in red blood cell production and nerve health.
But those who don’t consume animal products aren’t the only group at risk of a deficiency; low B12 levels are also increasingly common among anyone age 50 or older, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Individuals with autoimmune disorders, people who take medications for diabetes, and those who are long-term antacid users are also at risk. Certain genetic conditions can also interfere with maintaining adequate levels of this vitamin.
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Are You Deficient in B12?
Here are six of the most common indicators of a vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Mental health issues: feelings of depression, moodiness, or unusual mood swings. Note that you should check in with your doctor anytime mental health issues become problematic.
- Tingling limbs: feeling like your limbs are ‘asleep’ (called paresthesia), or numbness for no obvious reason.
- Digestive issues: frequent gas and indigestion, irregular bowel movements, or recurring diarrhea or constipation.
- Poor skin coloring: paleness, or a yellowish tinge, to your skin.
- Lack of vibrancy: often feeling weak, lightheaded or tired.
- Cognitive decline: impairment or dementia in the elderly.
In addition, these less-apparent symptoms may also be a red flag:
- Red, swollen, or painful tongue
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of the ability to taste
- Shortness of breath
- Problems with vision
If you’ve been bothered by any of these symptoms, see your doctor, who may order a blood test to check your B12 count. A deficiency is an easy problem to reverse with supplements or sometimes an injection. If you’re at risk due to dietary choices, consider adding nutritional yeast — a plant-based B12 powerhouse — to your diet.
Keeping watch on your B12 levels can help keep you energized, mentally stable, and fend off complications that may arise if a deficiency goes undetected.
Debbie Swanson is a freelance writer, published in numerous national and local outlets. An avid vegetarian, animal lover and reader, she loves learning about healthy eating and finding natural cures for everyday ailments.