Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in normal brain function and nervous system. It is one of eight B vitamins. Vitamin B12 is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the human body. It affects the DNA syntheses, fatty acid, and amino acid metabolism.
Unfortunately, we are not capable of producing this vitamin ourselves. Therefore, we must rely on getting it from our food sources or dietary supplements.
Here are 9 signs that you may have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
1. Weakness, Fatigue, Lightheadedness
Weakness and fatigue are common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. When your body does not have enough B12, it can not make red blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen throughout your body. Without efficiently being able to transport the oxygen your body needs, you will feel tired and weak.
2. Tingling in Hands and Feet
A more serious side effect of long-term B12 deficiency is nerve damage. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in a major contributor to the metabolic pathways that produces the fatty substance myelin. Myelin protects and acts as insulation for your nerves. Without B12, myelin will be produced differently and can cause your nervous system to not function properly. It may have the feeling of pins and needles, which can be a side effect associated with other medical issues like anemia.
3. Poor balance or Changes in mobility
Damage caused to your nervous system due to a B12 deficiency could cause changes in your mobility, making you more prone to falling.
4. Smooth, Inflamed Tongue
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause your tongue to become inflamed. This inflammation can cause you tongue to look and feel smooth. The tiny bumps that have your taste buds stretch out and disappear. There have been reports of changes in color and shape, as well as pain. Mouth ulcers have also been reported with people that have a B12 deficiency.
5. Depression or Mood Changes
People who have B12 deficiency reported changes in their mood. The theory is that B12 is involved in the synthesis of brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals help regulate your mood.
6. Blurry vision
The optic nerve can be damaged by the nervous system that is starved of vitamin B12. It can cause blurry or disturbed vision.
7. Shortness of breath, Heart Palpitations
Your body lacks the red blood cells needed to get enough oxygen to your body’s cells, causing you to be unusually breathless.
8. Pale skin or Jaundice Skin
Low B12 can cause a yellowish, pale hue. The red blood cells that you do have become very fragile. The red blood cells are easily broken, releasing a bilirubin pigment that gives your skin the yellowish hue.
9. Constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or even gas
Vitamin B12 is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein. The lack of B12 can cause a multitude of problems with the digestive system. However, research does not show an direct connection to IBS with a B12 deficiency. But people have reported constipation and diarrhea. A loss of appetite may be related to the inflammation of your tongue.
Most people can prevent B12 deficiency by eating enough meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products and eggs. If you have one or more of the signs listed, it is very important that you go see your doctor. For most, treatment resolves the problem. But if there is any nerve damage due to the deficiency, it could become permanent. A simple blood test will determine if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency.