Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms and Solutions

Updated on March 9, 2020

You could discover a Vitamin B12 after visiting your doctor with certain symptoms, or after having a blood test. It can be the result of a number of problems and can go undetected. The deficiency occurs when the lack of the vitamin affects your body’s ability to produce red blood cells that are functioning fully. 

The result of this deficiency can be underdeveloped red blood cells, which are larger than normal. Of course, this is a medical term, and not something you could notice without visiting your doctor. However, there are symptoms that might lead you to wonder whether there is something wrong. It’s also important to know that, depending on the cause of the deficiency, there are things you can do to improve the issue.

We take a look at some of the common symptoms associated with Vitamin B12 deficiency. They generally develop gradually, but if left untreated, it could get worse. We also look at some of the common treatments for this deficiency.

A Type of Anemia

You might associate anemia with a lack of iron, but vitamin B12 deficiency is also a type of anemia. The typical symptoms of any kind of anemia are fatigue, lethargy, headaches, pale skin, and feeling faint. Since these are symptoms associated with other conditions, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause immediately.

Anemia caused by a lack of vitamin B12 has its own specific symptoms. These include irritability and pins and needles, also known as paraesthesia. You might have these symptoms without developing anemia. It’s essential to visit your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Issues With Absorption

One of the reasons that a Vitamin B12 deficiency develops is because the body can’t absorb enough of the vitamin from food. The resulting condition is known as Pernicious anemia. The body struggles to make enough healthy red blood cells because of the lack of this nutrient. 

We obtain vitamin B12 from food, and a change in diet can help with the deficiency, but not if absorption is the problem. Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune condition. It means there is a lack of intrinsic factor, a type of protein, which combines with the vitamin in the stomach to aid absorption.

In these cases, it’s common to find alternative means to take B12. One such form is through inhaling the vitamin. At, they explain why they put this water-soluble vitamin in their vape pens. They “bypass the digestive track allowing for a unique absorption system into the body.”

Other Symptoms to Spot

A vitamin B12 deficiency can appear in a number of ways. As well as looking out for fatigue, irritability, and headaches, you may also experience depression and changes in your appetite. You could also have symptoms such as disturbed vision, changes in how you walk and move, as well as an alteration in how you think and behave.

Perhaps some of the most noticeable symptoms are the pale yellow color that tinges your skin, frequent and multiple mouth ulcers, and a sore tongue. While one or two of these can occur on their own, for various reasons, noticing several instances of these symptoms at once is a sign you should talk to a medical professional.

There are things you can do to alleviate the symptoms in the meantime, but it’s important to get to the root of the matter. Mouth ulcers, in particular, can be painful, so seek relief where possible.

Other Forms of Treatment

You might head down the inhalation route, but there are alternatives. Treatment through injection is common after a diagnosis of anemia connected to vitamin B12 deficiency. Initially, the injections may need to occur frequently, at least until your symptoms ease. Your treatment will then proceed depending on which symptoms you have, how they improve, and what your diet is like.

If, after discussing your diet, your doctor believes you could make some changes that would help, they will recommend some foods that are rich in vitamin B12. Clams are a particularly good source of this nutrient, as is liver. Many types of fish are also a good choice, including salmon and trout.

You might also be prescribed tablets to take daily with your meals. This is a way to ensure that you get a supply of vitamin B12, even if your diet doesn’t contain enough sources. Some kinds of vegan diets can struggle in this area, and so supplements are recommended. After any type of treatment, it is a good idea to follow up with your doctor. Taking another blood test will show whether your levels are improving within two weeks of starting treatment.

Final Thoughts

Vitamin B12 usually arises due to underlying causes and is rarely due to poor or restrictive diets. For this reason alone, it is important to speak to a medical professional as taking supplements may not solve the issue. Hopefully, this article has made you aware of the symptoms and possible solutions so that you can proceed accordingly. 

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