What Does Vitamin B12 Deficiency Cause?

Vitamin B12 Deficiency written on board

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a variety of health problems because this vitamin plays several crucial roles in the body. Some common consequences and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  1. Anemia: Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells. Deficiency can lead to a type of anemia known as megaloblastic anemia, which results in larger-than-normal red blood cells that don’t function properly. This can lead to fatigue, weakness, and pale or jaundiced skin.
  2. Neurological symptoms: B12 deficiency can affect the nervous system, leading to symptoms such as tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, difficulty walking, balance problems, memory problems, and mood changes.
  3. Fatigue and weakness: General weakness, fatigue, and lethargy are common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  4. Gastrointestinal issues: Some people with B12 deficiency may experience digestive problems like diarrhea or constipation.
  5. Glossitis and mouth ulcers: Inflammation of the tongue (glossitis) and mouth ulcers can occur due to B12 deficiency.
  6. Pale or jaundiced skin: A lack of red blood cells can lead to a pale complexion or jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) due to the breakdown of red blood cells.
  7. Vision problems: Severe and prolonged B12 deficiency may result in vision disturbances and optic nerve damage.
  8. Cognitive and mood changes: B12 deficiency can lead to cognitive impairments such as difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and mood changes, including depression and irritability.
  9. Cardiovascular issues: Elevated levels of homocysteine, a byproduct of B12 metabolism, due to deficiency can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart disease and stroke.

It’s important to note that symptoms and severity can vary from person to person, and some individuals may have subtle or atypical symptoms. If you suspect you have a B12 deficiency or are at risk of one (e.g., due to dietary restrictions, malabsorption issues, or certain medical conditions), it’s essential to seek medical evaluation and treatment. Vitamin B12 deficiency is typically treated with B12 supplements or dietary changes, depending on the underlying cause.

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