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Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency


Have you ever wondered if your body might be trying to tell you something important? Well, let’s talk about the “Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12.” Your body has a unique way of sending signals when something is amiss, and in this exploration, we’ll delve into those subtle hints and clues that could be pointing to a potential vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency

So, if you’ve been feeling a bit off lately and want to uncover the messages your body might be sending, keep reading to decode the signs related to this essential nutrient, vitamin B12, or Cobalamin.

Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency 

Vitamin B12 is a vital component, playing multiple roles in our body. It’s indispensable for DNA synthesis, which is crucial for our genetic makeup. Additionally, it acts as a cofactor for essential enzymes and supports the production of fatty acids, myelin for nerve function, and energy for cell membranes. A deficiency in B12 can lead to various health issues, some of them chronic. Our bodies can’t produce Cobalamin (B12) on their own, so our dietary choices are key. You’re at risk of deficiency if you’re vegetarian, vegan, or not getting enough B12 from your diet. Therefore, recognizing the signs and symptoms of B12 deficiency is essential for timely intervention.

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Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia

Whether you are not taking enough vitamin B12 dietary sources or the body is unable to absorb the B12, in both cases, there are high chances of Vit. B12 deficiency, which could be the cause of anaemia. Since Erythroblasts, the building blocks of red blood cells, depend on folate and vitamin B12 for growth and maturation. A shortage of either nutrient disrupts crucial processes like DNA synthesis, leading to erythroblast cell death and ineffective red blood cell production. Ultimately, this deficiency results in anaemia due to impaired erythropoiesis, the process of forming red blood cells. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia can lead to the following additional signs and symptoms of vitamin B12:

  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath 
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Palpitations
  • Problem with your vision
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Diarrhea
  • A sore or red tongue, sometimes with mouth ulcers

Hyperpigmentation vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms 

In a study involving two women, researchers observed skin lesions on their feet (1.5 months old) and the neck, upper limbs, and lower limbs (4 months old). Upon examination, no signs of autoimmune disorders were detected, except for low B12 levels. After supplementing with the necessary vitamin B12 dose, the hyperpigmentation lesions showed significant improvement within two weeks.

Similarly, it has been observed that Vitamin B12 deficiency patients show various skin and hair issues, such as skin hyperpigmentation, vitiligo, hair changes, and recurrent angular stomatitis. A notable sign of B12 deficiency is hyperpigmentation on the hands and feet, particularly over the knuckles and fingertips, often accompanied by changes in the colour of the oral mucosa. These skin and oral symptoms are distinctive indicators of vitamin B12 deficiency. 

B12 neurological symptoms 

A deficiency of vitamin B12, often stemming from insufficient dietary intake, can lead to a range of neurological symptoms in both adults and infants. These symptoms encompass issues like:

  • Apathy
  • Irritability 
  • Anorexia 
  • Stunted growth 
  • Developmental setbacks

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Additionally, it can result in delayed myelination or demyelination of nerve cells, impacting their ability to function correctly. Vitamin B12 is crucial for a healthy brain in individuals of all ages. Several factors can contribute to B12 deficiency, with one condition called subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord (SCDSC) resulting from it, which damages various segments of the spinal cord. It’s important to undergo a comprehensive neurological examination to assess for dementia, peripheral neuropathy, ataxia, and proprioception loss, along with a mental status evaluation to detect any neuropsychiatric changes.

Infertility due to B12 deficiency 

Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to infertility issues, particularly in women. Research has shown that women with low B12 levels face challenges in conceiving. B12 is crucial for regulating homocysteine, and when it’s insufficient, homocysteine accumulates. This buildup indirectly contributes to infertility by causing oxidative stress (OS). OS can harm eggs and disrupt ovulation, leading to anovulation, where ovulation doesn’t occur as it should. Elevated homocysteine levels can also damage the endometrium, impacting implantation and early pregnancy. Many women with unexplained infertility have been found to have high serum homocysteine levels. So, B12 deficiency can play a role in fertility struggles.

B12 deficiency causes Cardiovascular disease 

Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to cardiovascular disease primarily through a condition called hyperhomocysteinemia. Elevated homocysteine levels, a consequence of B12 deficiency, increase the risk of circulatory problems. Even a slight rise in homocysteine levels above 10 μmol/L is associated with a 20% higher risk of cardiovascular issues. Vegetarians, who often have lower B12 intake, are more prone to this deficiency. While vegetarians typically have improved cardiovascular risk factors, such as cholesterol and blood pressure, the protective effect may be lessened due to poor B12 status. To reduce cardiovascular disease risk, vegetarians are advised to consider B12 supplements.

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Vitamin B12 plays vital roles in our body, including DNA synthesis, enzyme support, and nerve function. Deficiency, often due to dietary choices, can lead to various health issues. In particular, it can cause anemia by disrupting red blood cell formation. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, headaches, and more. B12 deficiency can also manifest as skin hyperpigmentation, neurological problems like irritability and developmental setbacks, and infertility, particularly in women. Furthermore, it contributes to cardiovascular disease risk, primarily through elevated homocysteine levels. Recognizing and addressing these symptoms is crucial for timely intervention and maintaining overall health.


Can vitamin B12 deficiency be a sign of Cancer?

Vitamin B12 deficiency itself is not a sign of cancer. However, certain cancers or cancer treatments can lead to B12 deficiency as a secondary effect.

Ganglion cyst vitamin B12 deficiency?

A ganglion cyst is not directly related to vitamin B12 deficiency. These cysts typically form near joints or tendons and are not typically linked to nutritional deficiencies.

How long does it take to recover from vitamin B12 deficiency?

The recovery time from vitamin B12 deficiency varies depending on its severity and the treatment received. In many cases, symptoms improve within a few days to weeks with proper supplementation.

Written by

Sobin S. Gupta (MSc)

Sobin S. Gupta is a multifaceted professional—nutritionist, researcher, writer, and diabetes educator. She founded "Nutrition Meet," dedicated to educating the community on preventing and curing chronic diseases. With a passion for health and wellness, Sobin empowers individuals to take control of their well-being through informed dietary choices.

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