5 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Vitamin B12, Doctors Say

Maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for your health, and not just for keeping cardiovascular disease and weight gain at bay. It also helps ensure you get all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly. One of these essential vitamins is vitamin B, especially B12, which we often get from eating meat, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy products. However, it is possible to miss the mark with the recommended intake.

“Vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older adults, vegetarians and vegans,” he says. Samantha Turner, MPH, RDN, registered dietitian and owner of Forks and Grace. “[Vitamin B12] it plays an important role in supporting nerve and brain health and energy metabolism, and is crucial for nerve development, DNA synthesis and red blood cell formation.”

While a visit to the doctor can expose a deficiency, there are still other red flags to watch out for. Read on for signs you’re not getting enough vitamin B12, according to doctors and nutritionists.

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Feeling sleepy, run down, or generally lacking energy can be a sign of many health problems. It can also indicate a lack of the vital nutrient in your body.

“Vitamin B12 is essential for producing healthy red blood cells,” he says Leanne Poston, MD, licensed physician and health advisor for Invigor Medical. “Low levels of B12 can decrease the production of red blood cells and make it harder for oxygen to be delivered to the body’s cells, which can cause fatigue.”

Woman doing an ultrasound

A diet expert says a lack of vitamin B12 could become a problem if you’re planning to conceive.

“Vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to infertility, as vitamin B12 improves the number of healthy eggs and embryo quality,” Qianzhi JiangPhD, RDN, family dietitian and owner of The Nutrition Changer, explains Better Life.

He adds that a low level of vitamin B12 is also associated with an increase in homocysteine, an amino acid that can increase the risks of many diseases when in excess). “High levels of homocysteine ​​can damage the lining of the uterus, causing infertility,” says Jiang.

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man massaging his hand and fingers

If you notice pins and needles in your limbs, your body may be running out of vitamin B12.

“Vitamin B12 deficiencies can cause changes in the way nerves send messages throughout the body,” says Poston. “As nerve impulses slow down, your body interprets this as numbness and tingling.”

And these are not the only effects you may feel. “People with vitamin B12 deficiency may experience irritability, abnormal gait, an impaired sense of smell, and absences of neurological reflexes such as the knee-jerk reaction,” says Jiang.

He adds that when there is a severe deficiency, psychiatric symptoms that resemble dementia symptoms can also occur.

Young woman looking inside her mouth in a mirror

Do you notice some sensitivity in your mouth that is not related to a burn or toothache? According to Poston, it could be a sign that you’re lacking the essential nutrient.

“Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause glossitis,” he explains. “This appears as a soft appearance on the tongue that can be painful.”

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insecure man examining his skin in the mirror

According to Poston, a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause misshapen red blood cells. “These cells get trapped in the spleen, reducing the number of circulating red blood cells. This condition, called anemia, can cause pale skin,” he explains.

However, it is also possible to notice signs of this condition that are more than skin deep.

“Some people may see no or very mild symptoms caused by pernicious anemia for years, while others may experience fatigue, muscle weakness, or palpitations (which is a feeling that the heart is beating or not beating),” says Jiang. “However, pernicious anemia may not be seen in cases of mild vitamin B12 deficiency.”

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research and health agencies, but our content is not intended to replace professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you are taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

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