Your body needs vitamin B12 to create DNA, red blood cells, and nerves.

But as awesome as your body is, it can’t make B12 on its own. It relies on dietary or supplement sources to build up its required 2.4 micrograms per day.

But roughly 10-13% of all U.S. adults aren’t able to absorb natural B12 from food, no matter how much they take in. Other people, such as vegans, don’t eat enough dairy or meat to reach that amount.

People over the age of 50 are also at risk, as are those suffering from celiac disease or alcoholism.

Luckily, a vitamin B12 deficiency is fairly easy to spot and correct. Let’s take a look at the symptoms.

5 Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

1. Fatigue

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B12 helps your body metabolize food and turn it into energy. It also helps you transport oxygen throughout your body. Without B12, this process becomes difficult and you wind up feeling sluggish and tired.

2. Tingling Sensations

Vitamin B12 is crucial for healthy nerve function. A deficiency can lead to a condition known as peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy causes a breakdown in the nerves that carry messages from various parts of the body to the brain. This produces sensations of tingling and numbness throughout the body.

3. Low Blood Pressure

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In the absence of sufficient vitamin B12, your body cannot produce enough red blood cells. This places you at risk of having low blood pressure, which results in dizziness, fainting, lack of concentration, blurred vision, depression, fatigue and pale skin.

4. Hypothyroidism

Your thyroid is responsible for regulating growth and hormones. To function properly it requires several nutrients, one of which is vitamin B12.

In the absence of sufficient B12, the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, resulting in hypothyroidism.

Effects of hypothyroidism include weight gain, low heart rate, hair loss, impaired memory and skin damage.

5. Infertility and Miscarriage

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In 2001, a study published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine found that vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to infertility as well as repeat miscarriages.

Researchers say this is because vitamin B12 deficiency causes changes in ovulation. It also raises homocysteine levels, a major cause of fetal loss.

How to Treat B12 Deficiency

If you notice any of the above symptoms, a blood test can rule out any other conditions.

Once it’s been confirmed that you’re suffering from a B12 deficiency, there are a number of things you can do.

For one, you can eat foods that are rich in it. These include animal-based foods, like milk, cheese, and eggs. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, however, meat isn’t on the menu. Therefore, taking a natural supplement is critical.

Also Read: Vitamin B12 Supplements – Uses and Precautions

There’s no known upper limit for B12 intake, so you don’t have to worry about overdosing; researchers have observed 10,000 straight injections of the it with little damage aside from acne.

Journal of Reproductive Medicine
Mayo Clinic
Consumer Lab