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How to recognize a vitamin B12 deficiency

3 minutes

Let’s just start with the good news: a vitamin B12 deficiency is not something that will happen too fast. The human body namely always keeps a supply of vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, in order to be ahead of any deficiency that may occur. However, it is necessary to maintain this supply! Especially vegans and vegetarians must be very careful here. Should this not be possible at all, you will recognize a vitamin B12 deficiency from some symptoms.

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 belongs to the vitamin B complex: the group of different B-vitamins. Vitamin B12 is the best-known of the complete series and influences the human body and mood of people on a number of levels. For instance, vitamin B12 deals with the energy household of the body. Vitamin B12 also puts up a fight against fatigue, reinforces our mood, contributes to your resistance and in case of memory and concentration problems. Vitamin B12 takes care of all these aspects because, just like iron, it is necessary for the production of red blood cells.  These specific blood cells transport the oxygen in our body.

Products containing vitamin B12

The difficulty about the vitamin B complex is that the body itself does not produce these vitamins. We extract it only from food products. And it’s even a bit more tricky with vitamin B12 because, while many B-numbers can be found in grains and nuts, vitamin B12 is only in animal products. As a result, vegetarians and vegans ingest a lot less vitamin B12 because they obviously do not eat and drink meat, eggs or dairy products. That is why general practitioners advise vegans and vegetarians to take daily food supplements with B12. Party as a result of that, you are also ahead of a B12 deficiency in the body.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

However, it is possible that you do not take action on time and a vitamin B12 deficiency occurs in your body. Due to the fact that vitamin B12 starts working in some many different areas in the human body, any complaints in case of a deficiency differ per person. Are you curious if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency? These are the most common consequences of a vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • fatigue,
  • tingling in arms, legs, hands and/or feet,
  • deficit symptoms and/or inexplicable falling,
  • memory loss and/or concentration problems,
  • weak leg muscles,
  • tinnitus,
  • pale skin and hair loss.

Fortunately, a deficiency does not occur quickly in most cases. The body has a type of built-in mechanism that recognizes when less vitamin B12 is present in the body. That is why the body always has a extra supply of vitamin B12 stored. In other words, the body itself helps counteract a vitamin B12 deficiency. This small supply must, however, be supplement by eating foods containing enough vitamin B12 or by using supporting food supplements.

Vitamin B12 deficiency in elderly

Besides people whose diet consists of only plant-based products, the elderly also run an increased risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency. According to Stichting B12 Tekort this is because of the so-called food cobalamin malabsorportion: the inability to absorb enough B12 from food. Not enough transport proteins could be the cause of that. According to Stichting B12 Tekort, the amount of vitamin B12 in the body of the elderly decreases every year by 18 to 28 pmol/L as a result of that. To make this transparent: a normal value can decrease and turn into a deficiency within a few years.

Relevant items in vitamin B12 deficiency

Do you want to know more about certain food supplements or about vitamin B12 and a B12 deficiency? We would like to refer you to the following relevant items:

Is recognizing a vitamin B12 deficiency not completely clear yet to you, or do you have any other questions? Please contact us directly. We’d be happy to help you.