Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in a number of processes, including the production of red blood cells.
Deficiency is a common problem, particularly for vegans and those taking medications for acid reflux. Vitamin B12 deficiency is also more common in people with digestive and bowel disorders that prevent the proper absorption of nutrients. Here are five signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Fatigue is one of the first signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. If you have low levels of vitamin B12, your body is unable to make enough red blood cells to function properly, leading to anemia. Anemia can make you feel tired and lethargic. You may also feel physically weak and excessively sleepy throughout the day. Anemia can also leave you feeling light-headed and short of breath.
Low levels of vitamin B12 have been linked to mood disorders, depression and even dementia. In the early stages of deficiency, mood disorders and other cognitive symptoms can usually be treated successfully with supplements. However, severe or prolonged deficiency has been linked to damaged brain tissue and needs to be investigated by a doctor or specialist.
Prolonged vitamin B12 deficiency can damage the optic nerve, leading to blurred or distorted vision. Some people may also notice reduced color vision or changes in their field of vision, such as a blind spot. Fortunately, blurred or distorted vision can usually be corrected by taking vitamin B12 supplements.
Long-term vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to nerve damage. One of the most common symptoms of nerve damage is tingling or pins and needles in the hands and feet. If the deficiency remains untreated, it can cause serious damage to the nervous system. This damage can cause a range of physical symptoms, including difficulties with balance and coordination.
When the body is unable to make enough red blood cells, it can lead to jaundice, a condition caused by the buildup of bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice causes the skin and whites of the eyes to change color. Most commonly, the skin will appear to be a yellow color. However, for some people, the skin may have a green tinge or seem unusually pale.