Did you know that a woman’s ability to absorb the vitamin B12 gradually decreases with age? In fact, research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that 4-percent of females between the ages of 40 to 60-years old suffer from a B12 deficiency. Combine age with certain prescription medications (i.e., for heartburn) and a lack of meat in your diet (i.e., especially for vegetarians or vegans) and you could find yourself sorely lacking vitamin B12.
Thankfully, there are a number of steps that you can take to deal with a diagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency.
The following symptoms can indicate a B12 deficiency and should be brought to your doctor’s immediate attention…
Frequent bouts of dizziness or vertigo can often be a signal that your B12 stores are low. For instance, you may experience a feeling of wobbles when you get up too fast from a sitting position. Most often, people will notice the onset of dizziness suddenly when either changing positions from sitting to standing or after a right after you have experienced a significant amount of physical activity.
Those low in B12 may also feel dizzy when they walk up or down stairs, which can be quite dangerous. Chronic bouts of vertigo should be brought to your doctor’s attention so they can test you for B12 deficiency.
2. Pins and Needles
It’s very common to experience pins and needles if you sit cross-legged for far too long. However, pins and needles (or the feeling of numbness) throughout the body when you haven’t compressed any part of your body, can indicate a B12 issue.
Numbness or the feeling of electric shock waves can be the result of nerve damage in B12 deficient patients. Nerve issues in the body can be traced back to low oxygen levels, due to poor red blood cell production, which the B12 vitamin largely affects.
The uncomfortable feeling of pins and needles could also be related to a number of other potential issues including reduced blood supply or dehydration.
3. Pale Complexion
Sure, the idea of vampires may seem irrational. However, the concept that vampires are pale while suffering with a craving for blood sort of makes sense. After all, creatures of the night lack the vitamin B12.
Those with B12 deficiency often cast a pale complexion due to a lack of red blood cells. And those lacking in red blood cells often become ghostly in hue because the release excess bilirubin, which zaps those rosy cheeks and leaves behind a pale, yellow visage.
Sure, we all have “brain farts,” which is what I often refer to when I frantically look for my glasses even though their perched on top of my head. Let’s face it – we have all been there! However, chronic and uncharacteristic forgetfulness may indicate a deeper medical issue, particularly if you are noticing an increased trend of forgetfulness that you are beginning to become concerned about.
Many patients suffering from B12 deficiency even jump to the conclusion that they have early onset dementia or Alzheimer’s, especially if you are in your senior years. The good news here is that a simple blood test from your doctor can diagnose B12 deficiency, and a supplemental regimen can have your sharp-memory back in focus in no time!
5. Unexplained Fatigue
A night of good sleep followed by a day of yawns and dragging your feet can be common for many. However, if that fatigue is felt for days—even though you regularly get a good night’s sleep—your fatigue (combined with other already mentioned symptoms) may be the result of a B12 deficiency.
Researchers from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics claim that those who feel zapped of energy even though they get plenty of zzzzzzzzs may be experiencing low B12 levels. This is due to lack of red blood cell production, which is one of B12s responsibilities. Lack of red blood cells means oxygen transport to your organs is lacking, which is what can cause extreme fatigue.
6. Vision Issues
No, there isn’t something in your eye causing the spotting, blurred and double vision. In fact, low B12 stores over the long term can lead to vision changes and actually damage vision.
Retinal damage can result if blood vessels in the eye become blocked. As a result you may experience light sensitivity, blurred or double vision, tracers or shadows, which all result from damage to the optic nerve. Luckily, B12 supplementation can restore full vision.
7. Muscle Weakness
If you go from bench pressing 100-pounds to struggling with picking up your laundry, you may be suffering a lack of B12 vitamin. B12 is relied on for oxygenation of organs… and muscles.
As a result of lack of vitamin B12 and insufficient oxygenation to muscles, sluggishness and uncharacteristic muscle weakness may result. Suddenly an individual who could carry 5 bags of groceries for 4 blocks will struggle if their purse or gym bag is too heavy.
If you feel the onset of sudden weakness from time to time and aren’t suffering from a flu or cold, it is probably a good idea to speak to your doctor and to ask if your B12 levels could be a potential cause.
8. A Smooth Tongue
Interestingly, 50% of people who have a B-12 deficiency lose the little bumps on their tongue! These little bumps – called papillae, contain taste buds. Oftentimes, for those suffering from a B-12 deficiency, food will seem to have lost its taste.
For women, many have been known to lose weight because they don’t enjoy the food they are eating and eat less as a result.
9. Mood Changes
Vitamin B-12 is very important to mental health and may affect an individual’s mood in the state of a deficiency, causing anxiety or even depression. The reason being is that B-12 is required in the production of the “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine which keeps our brain functioning properly. Without enough serotonin and dopamine, depression may occur.
Additionally, B-12 deficiencies are known to reduce the amount of oxygen available for the neurons in the brain. If there isn’t a sufficient amount of oxygen in the brain, the neurons won’t be able to transmit signals through your body properly which may result in mood changes or depression.
10. Stomach Discomfort/Infrequent Bowl Movements
Having an upset stomach or constipation issues, may not be the result of something you ate. Vitamin B-12 is important for the function of red blood cells and assists in the production of hemoglobin which carries oxygen in the blood.
With a deficiency, this could lead to pernicious anemia in which your blood isn’t able to carry oxygen to your tissues, causing symptoms of nausea, diarrhea or difficult bowel movements.