Health & Wellness

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms and Warning Signs That Should Never Be Ignored

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms: Healthy eating should not be a choice, but a habit. We are all aware of the fact that 90% of all chronic diseases are caused due to the wrong selection of food, toxic food ingredients and nutritional deficiencies.

Keeping the rapid changes in our lifestyle on the top of the list it is essential to select a combined diet that is enriched with vitamins and minerals as they are considered as essential nutrients.

Undoubtedly, we all know that vitamins are organic compounds and each organism of our body needs it in a small quantity. But the human body could not produce vitamins.

We only synthesize it from sunlight. Therefore we have to depend on our diet and supplements to meet up the necessity of vitamins level in our body. Unless which we would suffer vitamin deficiency. Here in this article, we are going to discuss the importance of vitamin B12 and its sources along with deficiency signs.

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is one of the important nutrients among the B essential vitamin that our body needs. It plays an active role to keep our nerves active and healthy.  

Vitamin B12 is one of the important members of the B vitamin and vitamin B complex family which consists of eight vitamins. The distinctive characteristics features of this vitamin are:

  • It is water-soluble.
  • It performs an active part in metabolism.
  • Though vitamin B12 coexists with other 7 vitamins in the vitamin B complex group, each of them is different regarding their functional and chemical structure.
  • Vitamin B12 contains the mineral cobalt, so the compounds with B12 are also known as cobalamin.

Role of Vitamin B12 in the Human Body:

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient with various usefulness. It takes an active part in keeping our nerves strong and healthy. Let us take a quick look at its functions:

  • It plays a great role in myelin synthesis and thus it influences the nerve function.
  • Animal protein is the most common source of vitamin B12.
  • Vitamin B12 is water-soluble and it travel through blood stream inside our body.
  • The human body is able to store vitamin B12 up to four years
  • Vitamin B2 is an energy booster vitamin and helps to prevent heart disease.

Who is at most risk of a deficiency of vitamin b12?

Here are the lists of people who are at high risk of going vitamin B12 deficient—

VEGANS: As from the research study; it is evident that those people who are vegan are at a high risk of going vitamin B12 deficiency. This is because vegans do not consume meat, fish, eggs which are rich n vitamin B12. Apart from cereals, the only acceptable source of vitamin B12 is none but animal food. 

Seniors: the acids inside our stomach are responsible for the formation of this vitamin B12. In seniors, this acid level decrease and results in vitamin B12 deficiency.

About 40% of people ages 50 or over suffer from gastritis which makes the stomach linings less dense. So the amount of vitamin B12 which should be absorbed by the small intestine decreases.

People who consume too much alcohol are also at a high risk of going vitamin B12 deficient.

What is Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

When our body does not get the sufficient amount of vitamin B12 necessary then that condition is known as vitamin B12 deficiency. If our body becomes vitamin B12 deficient it will face problems like loss of nerves, the formation of red blood cells will be hampered and so on.

But the problem is that we are unaware of the signs and symptoms that our body gives when we go less on vitamin B12.

So below are some of the vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms which will help you to detect the vitamin deficiency.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms and warning signs:

1. Pale yellow skin:

Deficiency of vitamin B12 can result in the changes of the colour of the skin to pale yellow. It is one of the common symptoms of this deficiency.

2. Painful, Red Tongue:

those who are deficient of this vitamin will feel pain in their tongue and it will turn a bit deep red than its normal red colour.

3. Constipation:

Another common symptom is constipation in which the victim will excrete more than normal rate.

[Also Read: How to Cure Constipation Quickly and Naturally]

4. Mouth ulcers and canker sores:

most of us take mouth ulcers and canker sores as normal conditions but they are not because it can be a vital symptom of vitamin B12.

5. Loss of Memory:

Deficiency of vitamin B12 can hamper the functioning of the brain. So the loss of memory is a common symptom.

6. Vision Disturbance:

Another deadly Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms is vision disturbance because vitamin B12 prevents macular degeneration that prevents the loss of central vision.

7. Weakness:

Another symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency is a weakness.

8. Pin and Needles Sensation:

As this vitamin stimulates the production of myelin which plays an important role in the functioning of the nerves. So if anyone goes deficient of this vitamin that person will feel a sensation of pins and needles all over his/her body.

9. Problems while walking:

Deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause damage to our nervous system which can result in difficulty in balancing while moving or walking.

Health Benefits of Vitamin B12:

1. Prevents Anaemia and helps in the formation of Red Blood Cells:

Human blood needs folate to produce red blood cells and vitamin B plays an important role by helping our body to absorb folic acid.

Folate, vitamin B12 and iron all are crucial components that take part in erythropoiesis. The red blood cell cannot multiply without proper vitamin B12.

2. Improve Bone Health:

An adequate quantity of vitamin B12 supports our bone health and prevents osteoporosis. It prevents the bone from weakening by inhibits the homocysteine level to rise. A higher level of homocysteine in the plasma indicates the risk factors for many diseases.

3. Improve Heart Health:

Vitamin B12 Deficiency can deteriorate our heart health and can increase the chances of homocysteine. Excessive homocysteine can lead to arterial damage and clotting of blood which is a great risk for our heart to function properly.

4. Improve Brain Function:

Vitamin B12 accelerates our brain function if taken the appropriate dose in our daily diet. It actually prevents the loss of neurones which are a vital part of our brain’s functioning and can also lead to memory loss. This generally occurs in older adults. 

5. Provides Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails:

Vitamin B12 also plays an important role in cell production and thus it is needed in enough quantities to keep our skin, hair and nails in a good condition.

Deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to changes in colour in nails, hair changes, and vitiligo, a condition in which skin colour is lost in patches. So an adequate quantity of this vitamin can prevent this condition.

6. Energy Booster:

It is known to all that B vitamins play an important role in energy production in our body and vitamin B12 is one of them. It is a great energy booster for our body.

But vitamin B12 is needed in sufficient amount to get that much energy if it is not sufficient your energy level may decrease gradually.  

7. Decreases the Risk of Macular Degeneration:

Sufficient amount of vitamin B12 can also reduce the danger of macular degeneration, which is a condition in which the central vision of the eye is affected.

It actually occurs due to the increased level of homocysteine in the blood. Vitamin B12 with folic acid and vitamin B6 can reduce the risk.

Tips to Maintain the Level of Vitamin B12:

  • Some people like older adults have difficulties in absorbing vitamin B12 by means foods. So it is recommended that they should take vitamin B12 supplements.

Vitamin B12 Foods:

foods with vitamin b12
foods with vitamin b12


Animal liver and kidneys:

organ meats, especially of lamb, can provide us with a large amount of vitamin B12. 100gm of lamb liver can give us 1500% of the RDI for vitamin B12 while a kidney contains 1400% of the RDI.


Another source of vitamin B12 is clams which are nothing but a small chewy shellfish packed with protein and vitamin B12. 100gm of clam can provide us with 99mcg of vitamin B12 that is 1700% of the RDI.


These small saltwater fishes not only provide us with vitamin B12 but also with a good amount of other nutrients. It contains double the RDI for vitamin B12.

Beef and steak:

these two are the excellent food source for vitamin B12. A grilled steak contains about 300% of the RDI for vitamin B12. 100gm of beef contains about 6.2 mcg of vitamin B12.


It is one of the healthiest fish which is a source of vitamin B12. Trout is also a good source for protein, fats and other B vitamins. 100 gm of trout 8 mcg of vitamin B12 that is 150% of the RDI.


Nutritional Yeast:

Nutritional yeast is a good vitamin B12 food for vegans. It is actually a different species of yeast that is consumed as food, not as a preserving material for bread and beer. This vitamin is not present in it; it is actually fortified. 2 tablespoon of this yeast can give us 7.9mcg of vitamin B12.

Fortified Cereals:

Fortified cereals are another source of vitamin B12 for our body, especially for vegetarians. It is synthetically made not derived from animal sources.

These cereals are not recommended in our healthy diet but it’s a good source of vitamin B12 for us. 30gm of cereals contain about 139% of the RDI

Dairy Product:

It is known to all that cheese, yoghurt which is nothing but dairy products are great sources for vitamins including vitamin B12, protein, minerals etc. It is a good source for both vegetarians and no vegetarians.

Among different kind of cheeses, research proved that Swiss cheese contains the maximum amount of vitamin B12 in it.

How much Vitamin B12 our Body Needs:

Inadequate level of vitamin B12 can create severe health issues, such as pernicious anaemia, which is a blood disorder. It cause fatigue and affects brain function.

Besides this essential vitamin plays an important key role in the nervous system and DNA and red blood cell production. So it’s necessary to know how much vitamin B12 we need.

 The amount of vitamin B12 that we need mainly depends on age and stages of life. Let us check the table below—-

  •  Both men and women  who are 19 years old or above—— Individual who comes under this group need 2.4mcg/day amount of vitamin B12
  • Pregnant women 19 years or above need 2.6mcg/day.
  • Lactating women who are 19 years or older need 2.8mcg/day.

So to conclude the article here is one last thing to remember that Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms can affect our total health and well being. It can affects heart, nerves, bones and brains. So be careful to take the proper dose with proper medical supervision.

Dr Maria

MD. Board Certified physician. Fellowship In Family Medicine UK. 8 years of medical experience in Lifestyle-related health disorders. Graduated from AIIMS – All India Institute Of Medical Science, INDIA

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