Of all the common vitamin deficiencies, vitamin B12 is among the most harmful. This crucial vitamin is responsible for such great tasks as creating DNA and red blood cells, as well as helping your nervous system function properly. Despite its importance, your body does not do it naturally; we rely on food to supply enough vitamin B12 to maintain good health.
If you suffer from Crohn’s disease, celiac disease or an immune disorder such as Grave’s disease or lupus, your doctor may have told you about the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. However, people with these conditions are not the only ones who need to worry; vegans and vegetarians, as well as people over 50, are especially at risk for this form of anemia. Here’s how to know if you’re missing vitamin B12.
Pale yellow skin
Red blood cells produce bilirubin as they break down, causing jaundice.
Numbness and tingling
Vitamin B12 deficiency has a direct effect on the nerves. Fatigue, tingling, tremors and balance problems may indicate depleted levels of Vitamin B12.
The same deficiency that can cause tingling and numbness can also affect your mood. Anxiety, depression, and extreme ups and downs can signal a deficiency in vitamin B12 that helps synthesize important mood-regulating chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. If you are feeling unwell, try exercises to help improve your mood. And, of course, if the sensation lasts for more than two weeks, seek the help of your family doctor or therapist.
Smooth, red tongue
Vitamin B12 can cause a loss of papillae on the tongue. Taste buds are located on the papillae, so if you lose your taste for food and no longer find it comfortable to eat, talk to your doctor about checking your vitamin B12 level.
Extreme vitamin B12 deficiency can damage the optic nerve. This can cause blurred or double vision, sensitivity to light and, in some cases, loss of vision.
Nerve damage due to vitamin B12 deficiency can prove to be a burning sensation in the feet. Like numbness and tingling, the sensation usually begins in the fingers or toes and, untreated, can spread up the arms and legs.
If you stagger or lose balance while walking, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause neurological damage, according to Harvard Health Publications.
Difficulty thinking and memory loss are two other neurological symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
If you are over 50 years of age, strict vegetarian or vegan or have had weight loss surgery, talk to your doctor about checking your B12 level. It is also a good idea if you are taking a proton pump inhibitor such as Nexium, an H2 blocker like Zantac, or metformin for diabetes.