How do you know if you are B12 deficient
Updated: Mar 21
Vitamin B12 is water-soluble and found naturally in certain foods but can be difficult to get sufficient amounts. It can also be found as a dietary supplement in most health food stores and grocers, as well as available by prescription.
B12 is important to the body because it’s responsible for:
- the formation of red blood cells
- the health of nerve cells
- energy production
- assistance in the making of DNA
- helping to ensure a healthy pregnancy
- the prevention of anemia
- healthy neurological functioning
Signs of a B12 Deficiency
So what happens if your body doesn’t get the B12 it needs for these processes? We’ve gone in for the current research on the matter to find the facts. Here’s what we found:
Studies show that those with insufficient vitamin B12 intake have lower than average bone mineral density which, over time, can lead to bone fragility and a greater risk of osteoporosis. (Tucket, Hannan, Qiao et al., 2005, January).
With vitamin B12 deficiency, numbness and tingling of the hands and feet may occur, as well as other types of neurological changes. (Healton, Savage, Brust, et al., 1991). These symptoms may occur without the telltale signs of anemia, also, so it’s important to treat the deficiency as soon as it’s noted so that irreversible damage can be prevented. (Clarke, R., 2008).
Increased risk of macular degeneration
A lower than adequate intake of vitamin B12 can lead to heightened homocysteine levels in the blood, which research has associated with the increased risk of age-related macular degeneration. (Seddon, Gensler, and Milton, 2006, January). Macular degeneration occurs when the macula, or the central portion of the retina, deteriorates resulting in severe, irreversible vision loss in people over 60 years of age. (Huang, Wang, Sah, et al., 2015, July 21).
Increased risk of failure to thrive and other delays and disorders of infancy
When assessing the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency from infancy to adolescence, scientists have found that a deficient cobalamin status has been associated with movement disorders, developmental delays, megaloblastic anemia, and failure to thrive in infants.
(Monsen & Ueland, 2003, July).
Increased risk of birth defects, miscarriage, and premature birth
Pregnant mothers who don’t get a sufficient amount of B12 may increase their fetus’s risk of birth defects, particularly related to the brain and nervous system. One example of this is neural tube defects. (Molloy, Kirke, Troendle, et al., 2009, March). Statistics indicate that maternal intake levels of B12 lower than 150 mg/dL increase the risk of birth defects to 5 times higher than pregnant mothers with levels of 400 mg/dL or above. Additionally, maternal vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to an increased risk of miscarriage and premature birth. (Molloy, Kirke, Brody, Scott & Mills, 2008, June).
Increased risk of depression
Since vitamin B12 is associated with a lower than normal serotonin production--a common aspect of depression--it is also believed to have a connection to depressed mood. (Syed, Wasay & Awan, 2013, November 5).Research has supported B12 supplements for those with this deficiency when symptoms of depression are noted. One study found that participants with depression and inadequate vitamin B12 levels were likely to have improved depressive symptoms when B12 and antidepressants were given together rather than just antidepressants alone. (Pennix, Guralnik, Ferrucci, et al., 2000, May).
We’ve covered several areas of vitamin B12 deficiency here today, but there are even more for us to discuss next time. Considering today’s evidence, we can see clearly how important vitamin B12 is as a nutrient by how the body responds when it’s lacking. Without proper vitamin B12 levels, we place at risk our maternal and prenatal fetal health, newborn health, neurological health, mood, vision, bone health, and more.
Are you interested in supplementing your vitamin B12 with an injection? Give us a call or stop in anytime we’re open, and our friendly, informed staff can help you make your decision on the subject and set your first appointment for you! You can also email us at: email@example.com with any questions you may have.
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Clarke, R. (2008). B-vitamins and prevention of dementia. Retrieved from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/#h5
Healton, Savage, Brust, et al. (1991). Neurological aspects of cobalamin deficiency. Retrieved from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/#h5
Huang, Wang, Sah, et al. (2015, July 21). Homocysteine and the risk of age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-benefits#section4
Molloy, Kirke, Brody, Scott & Mills. (2008, June). Effects of folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies during pregnancy on fetal, infant, and child development. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-benefits#section2
Molloy, Kirke, Troendle, et al. (2009, March). Maternal Vitamin B12 Status and Risk of Neural Tube Defects in a Population With High Neural Tube Defect Prevalence and No Folic Acid Fortification. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-benefits#section2
Monsen & Ueland. (2003. July). Homocysteine and methylmalonic acid in diagnosis and risk assessment from infancy to adolescent. Retrieved from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/#en33
Pennix, Guralnik, Ferrucci, et al. (2000, May). Vitamin B(12) deficiency and depression in physically disabled older women: epidemiologic evidence from the Women's Health and Aging Study. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-benefits#section5
Seddon, Gensler, and Milton. (2006, January). Evaluation of plasma homocysteine and risk of age-related macular degeneration. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-benefits#section4
Syed, Wasay & Awan. (2013, November, 15). Vitamin B12 Supplementation in Treating Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-benefits#section5
Tucker, Hannan, Qiao et al. (2005, January). Low plasma vitamin B12 is associated with lower BMD: the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-benefits#section3