Vitamin B12 deficiency: Causes, symptoms & treatment

Updated on Nov 12, 2019 03:35 PM IST  |  1.5M
Vitamin B12 deficiency: Causes, symptoms & treatment
Vitamin B12 deficiency: Causes, symptoms & treatment

Vitamin B12 is an essential micronutrient for your body. The body needs vitamin B12 to function efficiently and the vitamin does a lot of things for the body. For starters, vitamin B12 helps make our DNA and red blood cells! Since our body does not naturally make vitamin B12, we have to get it from animal based foods or from supplements. One needs to consume vitamin B12 on a regular basis, because our body can not store vitamin B12 for a long time.

The intake of vitamin B12 depends on tissues such as age, eating habits and health conditions, and what medications you take. You can get vitamin B12 in animal foods, which have it naturally, or from items that have been fortified with it. Animal sources include dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry. If you’re looking for a food fortified with B12, check the product’s Nutrition Facts label.

What causes vitamin B12 deficiency?

The absorption of vitamin B12 reduces with age. It can also happen if you have had weight loss surgery or another operation that removed part of your stomach, or if you drink heavily.


People with auto-immune disorders or suffering from small intestine diseases also have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vegans and vegetarians must make sure to get vitamin B12 supplements or fortified foods.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

1. Those with vitamin B12 may face shortness of breath, heart palpitations, weakness and fatigue.

2. It may also lead to nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking. If untreated, it could also lead to a loss of vision.


3. Mental problems like depression, memory loss, or behavioral changes could also be a result of vitamin B12 deficiency.

4. Gas, diarrhea, constipation and a loss of appetite are common symptoms.

Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency

1. If you have pernicious anemia or have trouble absorbing vitamin B12, you'll need shots of this vitamin at first. You may need to keep getting these shots or take high doses of a supplement by mouth.


2. If you don’t eat animal products, your diet will have to include vitamin B12-fortified grains, a supplement or B12 injections, or a high dose oral vitamin B12.

3. Older adults who have a vitamin B12 deficiency are recommended to take a daily B12 supplement or a multivitamin that contains B12.


User Avatar