Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin because all the cells of the human body need vitamin B12. This situation emerges since vitamin B12 allows the cells to multiply. The most severe and critical impact of vitamin B12 deficiency is endured by the red blood cells. This impact is hinged on the fact that red blood cells need to multiply at a rapid pace in order to create millions of cells within each minute. A shortage of red blood cells is often triggered by a shortage of B12 in the body. This in turn leads to a condition known as anemia. It is for this reason that symptoms of anemia are synonymous with vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms. These symptoms typically include tiredness, shortness of breath and palpitations. Medical professionals will often note that anemia tends to be one of the first symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency. It is important to note however, that although the two conditions share similar symptoms, anemia may not necessarily be linked with vitamin B12 levels in the body. Individuals, in essence, can have vitamin B12 deficiency and not have anemia.
Pernicious anemia is a type of anemia derived from vitamin B12 deficiency. This anemia is caused by a lack of intrinsic factor which essentially means that B12 is unable to be absorbed properly by the body. The symptoms of this strain of anemia are similar to those of plain anemia specifically; tiredness, fatigue and shortness of breath. Additional symptoms of anemia are:
- Sore tongue
- Weight loss
- Pale skin, often with a lemon tint
- Sporadic diarrhea
- Menstrual problems, and
- Weak resistance to infections.
If the deficiency persists, the nervous system may be affected, leading to the following additional symptoms:
- tingling in the fingers and toes
- muscle weakness
- tenderness in the calves, and
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms may include; sores at the corners of the mouth (at times extending over to the lip), difficulty maintaining balance, tingling in the thighs, migraine headaches, memory loss (this only occurs with extreme levels of deficiency), irritability, personality changes and disorientation.
A body that is lacking in vitamin B12 may also display the following symptoms ; itchy tongue, white spots on the skin (result of melatonin disappearing from the skin), tingling pain in palms, eye twitch, shortness of breath (but without chest pain), nerve shock in the side of the body.
Manifestations of mania and psychosis can also be seen as vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.
Dietary adjustments may relieve the symptoms of anemia brought on by a vitamin B12 deficiency, however B12 is mainly sourced from animal products which are rich in proteins. These items include dairy products, fish, poultry, eggs and red meat.
The good news for those who shy away from animal sources of food is that yeast is also a source of vitamin B12.