The human body is an incredible thing when you really stop to think about it. Every nanosecond of the day, it’s performing microscopic tasks that all combine to keep your body in motion and your heart beating. In order to properly function, though, our bodies require proper nutrition and a big part of that is making sure that we’re getting enough Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 does a ton of things for our bodies that are vital to our survival. One of those things is making our DNA and red blood cells – pretty important! And here’s the kicker: our bodies don’t make it! Which means it’s up to us to make sure that we’re getting enough of it through our nutrition or by taking supplements.
So, how do you know if you’re deficient in vitamin B12? Well, the only way to know for sure is to get some bloodwork done and have your doctor give you a diagnosis. We understand that you may not be in a rush to do that unless you think there’s an issue, though, so we have nine signs that could mean you’re low on B12 and may want to make an appointment.
1. You struggle to make it through the day.
One of the earliest signs of B12 deficiency is fatigue because our body needs the vitamin to make red blood cells and those red blood cells carry oxygen to your organs. If you’re low on red blood cells, your cells don’t have enough oxygen which means you’re going to feel extremely tired no matter how many hours of sleep you get or how much coffee you chug. Keep in mind, fatigue has many culprits so don’t jump to conclusions quite yet.
2. Your muscles feel weak.
Remember those red blood cells we were talking about? Well, if they’re not getting enough oxygen it’s going to make your muscles feel powerless and you’re going to struggle to pick up anything over a few pounds.
3. You catch a buzz.
Not the good kind of buzz, this one feels like your whole body is tingly. If your body is low on B12 and therefore your cells are low on oxygen, it can lead to nerve damage which then leads to pins and needles all over your body.
4. You’re losing your mind.
Have you noticed more memory lapses than usual lately? Maybe you’re looking for your phone while it’s in your hand, or you can’t remember names or places or why you walked into a room? These moments could be that you’re low in B12. Oftentimes, a deficiency in B12 is mistaken for dementia or Alzheimer’s in elderly patients. A simple blood test and proper supplements can reverse the symptoms once diagnosed.
5. You lose your balance.
If you often get dizzy when you stand up or when walking, low B12 could be the reason. It all goes back to a lack of oxygen brought on by too few red blood cells.
6. You look a little ghostly.
When you’re low in B12, your red blood cells become fragile and can break apart easier than usual which releases bilirubin pigment and causes your skin to be pale with a yellow hue. If your complexion has changed from tan to pale with a yellow hint, it could be because of B12.
7. Your tongue has changed.
Normally, our tongue is covered with little bumps called papillae. These bumps are all over the tongue and especially around the edges except in people who are low in B12. If you’ve noticed that your tongue is smooth and red, that you’ve lost taste, and that you’ve experienced burning or soreness on your tongue, you should get your B12 levels checked as this is a sign of severe B12 deficiency.
8. Your emotions are all over the place.
Have you noticed that your mood swings a little more dramatically these days? There’s a chance it’s related to low B12. This vitamin is involved in the synthesis of brain chemicals which include our natural “happy pills” called serotonin and dopamine which help regulate our mood. When we’re low in B12, it’s hard for our brain to control shifts in our mood so we can swing from depressed to anxious quicker than normal.
9. Your vision has changed lately.
One of the late-stage symptoms of B12 deficiency is a change in your vision. You may have blurry vision, double vision, light sensitivity, vision loss, or you may even see dark spots or shadows. This is only in extreme cases when the lack of B12 has damaged the optic nerve.
All of these symptoms can possibly mean you have a deficiency in vitamin B12. However, they can also be caused by other conditions so it’s important to make an appointment with a doctor to have blood work done. Once diagnosed, treatment can be done by injections, supplements, or dietary changes. In most cases, symptoms are reversible with treatment and you won’t experience any lasting damage.
The easiest way to deal with B12 deficiency is to prevent it by making sure that you’re getting enough of this important vitamin through your nutrition. Foods high in B12 include meat, poultry, dairy products, seafood, and eggs. Vegans or vegetarians can take multivitamins containing B12.
If you’re concerned that you may have a vitamin B12 deficiency, you should act now by calling your doctor so you can get the help needed to get back on track towards a healthy and fully-functioning body.