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About Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

Updated on September 16, 2015

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms can show up in anyone; however, vegetarians, elderly and malnourished people are the most susceptible. B12 deficiency is a common occurrence in vegetarians due to the fact that animal-derived products are not part of their diet. According to Harvard Health, Vitamin B12 is only found in animal-derived products such as meats, dairy, poultry, eggs and fish. Elderly and individuals who suffer from stomach acid issues may also suffer and exhibit vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms. As people age, there is a lack of stomach acids in the human body that makes absorbing vitamin B12 difficult. People who take medications to aid and suppress stomach acids due to heartburn issues are also at risk. Recognizing Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are crucial, where as nerve damage and other serious disorders may develop.

What Vitamin B12 Does for the Human Body

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is one of the eight water soluble B vitamins. B12 is not stored in the human body; therefore it is necessary to receive daily intakes of the vitamin. B12 helps regulate blood cells in the body. The vitamin also helps nerve cells function properly. Vitamin B vitamins also convert foods into energy for the human body.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

Memory loss is one of the most common medium B12 deficiency symptoms that individuals exhibit. Individuals may also feel weak and tired on a daily basis who exhibit mild symptoms. Other mild symptoms include pale skin, weight loss and constipation. Prolonged deficiencies may result in severe cases such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Some individuals may also suffer from hallucinations.


Individuals who suspect that he or she is exhibiting B12 deficiency symptoms should seek the care and opinion of a doctor. A doctor may recommend individuals showing minor symptoms of a B12 deficiency take a daily supplement. For first treatment, the doctor may administer the B12 shot or proscribe the supplements. Treatments will generally depend on the severity of the deficiency. Supplements can be found in forms such as softgel tabs, liquid drops for children, lozenges and traditional vitamin capsules. People wishing to purchase over the counter Vitamin B12 only supplements should look for “obalamin and cyanocobalamin,” as that is what it is generally titled under in stores.

Shots for Deficiency Treatment

B12 shots are generally given by a doctor once or more a month. A patient that has shown vitamin B12 deficiency and diagnosis has been confirmed, will generally always have to take either B12 shots or supplements for life.

Drug Interactions

Vitamin B12 may interact with certain types of antibiotics, such a Tetracycline. When the two interact, the antibiotic makes B12 less likely to absorb in the human body. Prescription and non prescription stomach acid medications also prohibit B12 from absorbing. People who are treating Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms should always follow and discuss all forms of medications that are taken to prevent harmful interactions.

Vitamin B12 Explained by Dr. T

“Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms” References:

University of MarylandMedicalCenter: “Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)”

HarvardMedicalSchool: “Vitamin B12 Deficiency : Vegetarians, elderly may not get enough vitamin B12, says the Harvard Health Letter”

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms sometimes are treated with prescription pills.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms sometimes are treated with prescription pills.


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    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 7 years ago from UK

      Interesting and informative hub.

      I am from the UK and I am beginning to wonder if I live in a third world country. You talk about daily, monthly injections of the b12 vitamin and for someone like me who cannot absorb b12 from foods because my intrinsic factor is defunct I feel I could do with daily/monthly injections. However, my doctor tells me that an injection every 3 months is ample. I have just had some blood tests to see if I can have my injection at 2 months. My doctor says that the body only keeps what it needs and that there wouldn't be any point in daily or monthly injections but two months after having my injection I am already showing signs similar to dementia, have absolutely no energy, tired all the time, aches and pains everywhere sometimes my brain is all over the place and I can't seem to find the information I know is in there and if there are any bugs going around they make a bee-line for me.

      I find this article very useful in fact so far all the hubs I've read on this subject have really ticked me off a bit and I am going to print them all out and give them to my doctor and ask her why other countries treat the condition in a different way.

      Thanks for a really useful hub.

    • jaymelee23 profile image

      jaymelee23 7 years ago from United States

      Thanks PrettyPanther :)

    • PrettyPanther profile image

      PrettyPanther 7 years ago from Oregon

      This is important information. Another thing you might look into and may want to add is that B12 deficiency is common among people who take the diabetic medication metformin. It is a commonly prescribed drug, and not all doctors monitor for B12. Good article!