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Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

Updated on November 19, 2012
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 Deficiency | Source

1. Functions of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 serves various very important functions in human body. It works in collaboration with B vitamin folate to form human body’s genetic material. In addition it helps maintain levels of amino acid homocysteine that could help minimize the risk of heart diseases. It is also essential in generating red blood cells. Red blood cells supply oxygen via blood to the tissues of the human body.

2. Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

There could be various numbers of possible causes for deficiency of this vitamin. Normally it occurs in people whose digestive systems are unable to absorb the proper amount of this vitamin from the nutrition they use. Some general causes of this situation are:

  • Due to Pernicious anemia that is a condition in which is caused by the lack of a protein called intrinsic factor. This protein is made in the stomach. It is necessary for vitamin B12 absorption.
  • Due to Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs.
  • Due to Atrophic gastritis which is a thinning of the stomach lining that affects up to 30% of people aged 50 and older.
  • Due to surgery in which part of the stomach and/or small intestine is removed.
  • Due to such conditions that affects the small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite.
  • Due to excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Due to autoimmune disorders, such as Grave’s disease or systemic lupus erythematosus

The deficiency of this vitamin can be found in vegetarians. The reason being the best food sources for this vitamin are animal products. People who do not use any animal products, including meat, eggs, or milk are at much greater risk. In addition vegetarians who eat eggs and milk products are also at risk because, on average, they consume less than half the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12. Also babies born to mothers who are vegetarians may also be deficient in vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms | Source
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms | Source

3. What Are B12 Deficiency Symptoms?

The deficiency of vitamin B12 is very commonly found. It is really possible for human body to become deficient in vitamin B12 if daily diet does not contain required amount of vitamin B12. Some vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are mentioned below that one should always watch out for.

  • · Common Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

You are likely to experience one or more of these common symptoms if you are having a B12 deficiency. Unexplained fatigue, problems with digestion, no or decreased appetite, nausea and irregular or complete lack of menstruation are some of the common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. If you are experiencing one or more than one of these symptoms, there is a high possibility that you are suffering from a B12 deficiency and you must not hesitate to check a doctor as soon as possible.

  • · Other Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

Some other symptoms are also associated with vitamin B12 deficiency and they are rather difficult to diagnose or they may not be experienced by everyone because everyone is not the same. Some of these include numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, diarrhea, mild depression, behavioral changes, frequent upper respiratory infections, impotence, impaired memory, sore tongue, fever and paranoia. Sometimes it is possible that you do not experience these symptoms but you might still be having vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 Food sources
Vitamin B12 Food sources | Source
Vitamin B12 Food sources
Vitamin B12 Food sources | Source

4. Foods that are high in B12

Some of the foods that are high in vitamin B12 are liver, chicken giblets, kidney, egg yolks, dried beans, split peas, lentils, soy products, nuts and almonds, wholegrain, breads, wheat flour, potato and sweet potato, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, oranges and peaches. Your food and diet should have a good amount of these food products to make sure that you avoid deficiency of this vitamin. Drinking alcohol regularly, using birth control pills and certain medical conditions are known to increase chances of you experience deficiency of this important vitamin.

5. Do Symptoms Always Indicate Deficiency?

This is very important to note that symptoms of deficiency might not actually mean that you have deficiency of this vitamin. Sometimes they can be caused by other serious health conditions like Lupus or Lyme’s disease. It is strongly advised to visit your physician if you experience any of these deficiency symptoms. Vitamin B12 deficiency can be really dangerous so it is good to find it out early to avoid future complications. In addition it is good to consume such foods those are high in this vitamin and taking a vitamin supplement so that this does not become a problem in future for your health.


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    • profile image

      chris 3 years ago

      Methyl-Life carries this! Changed our lives!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      You did a great job of underlining the importance of this vitamin because most of the times anemia is due to a lack of Vitamin B12 rather than iron.

    • GrApEwAtEr profile image

      Umer Farooq 5 years ago from Birmingham, United Kingdom

      frogyfish, Thank you for stopping by and have a look at information. Do try to absorb as much vitamin B12 as possible from natural resources. Natural resources are always the best. :-)

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 5 years ago from Central United States of America

      Informative tips given. I think I shall go get me some giblets and saute them - my siblings and I used to fuss over who got the biggest ones...a long time ago. So we got our B12 then. :-) Now I take a sub-lingual tiny tablet of B12 nearly every day - it absorbs under the tongue and tastes good too.

    • profile image

      summerberrie 5 years ago

      Great information and very informative! My mom has been trying to get me to take B-12 for a few years now..I just might give it a try, now. Voted up and useful!

    • GrApEwAtEr profile image

      Umer Farooq 5 years ago from Birmingham, United Kingdom

      I am thankful to you for such an encouraging comment. Thank you for taking time and visiting.

    • amanthkr01 profile image

      Aman Thakur 5 years ago from India

      A very well written and crafted hub with very informative content. Thanks for sharing the hub. Voted up and useful.

    • GrApEwAtEr profile image

      Umer Farooq 5 years ago from Birmingham, United Kingdom

      Thank you Rtalloni for visiting and giving your precious amount of time to read and comment.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      A good look at B12 with lots of helpful and important information. Thanks.