B12 Deficiency - Symptoms, Causes and Management
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Vitamin B12 Deficiency - One of the Leading Nutrient Deficiencies

Written by
Dr. Prashant Dharmraj Shah
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Jan 07, 2017 and last reviewed on Apr 28, 2022   -  1 min read


Do you feel weak, tired, and short of breath? It can be signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. Learn about the symptoms, causes, and management.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency - One of the Leading Nutrient Deficiencies

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for humans because it plays a vital role in cell divisions and growth of the cell. Synonym of vitamin B12 is cobalamine derived from the content of cobalt.

Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency causes numbness and tingling sensation of both upper and lower limb of the body, uneasiness, fatigue, general weakness, weight loss, leg cramps, anemia, an altered taste of mouth, recurrent oral ulcers and many more of undescribed complaints.

Causes of B12 Deficiency

  1. A person, who does not take enough fresh milk will result in vitamin B12 deficiency as pasteurized milk reduces its B12 content.
  2. It is also believed that RO plants (reverse osmosis) used to purify water drains out B12 from drinking water.
  3. Overuse of medicines for hyperacidity also leads to B12 deficiency.
  4. Addiction to gutka and tobacco also causes the deficiency.

Management of B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency is treated with some medicines, which are available in oral and injectable form. It is also increased by supplementation of vitamin B12 containing foods.

Sources of Vitamin B12

Vegetarians can increase their vitamin B12 level by regular intake of milk and milk products like butter, cheese, paneer, curd, buttermilk, etc. Non-vegetarian foods are a rich source of vitamin B12.

We can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by taking vitamin B12 rich foods, mixing RO water with plain water and avoiding regular use of hyperacidity medicines.

To gain more knowledge about Vitamin B12 consult a nutritionist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/nutritionist

Frequently Asked Questions


What Do Low Vitamin B12 Levels Do?

When your body is deficient in vitamin B12, it leads to anemia, nerve damage, problems with memory and thinking, tiredness, and weakness.


What Mainly Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Conditions causing malabsorption of dietary vitamin B12 like pernicious anemia, aging, absence of a part of the stomach or small intestine (surgically removed), bacterial or parasitic infestation in the small intestine, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease result in vitamin B12 deficiency. Veganism, alcoholism, and taking certain medicines (Metformin and antacids) also cause B12 deficiency.


What Neurological Symptoms Does B12 Deficiency Cause?

Neurological symptoms caused due to vitamin B12 deficiency include,
- Decreased mental abilities.
- Tingling sensation in fingers and toes.
- Numbness.
- A sensation of imbalance.
- Altered moods or low moods.
- Blurred vision.


How Does a B12 Deficient Tongue Look Like?

Vitamin B12 deficiency causes glossitis, which is the inflammation of the tongue. Tongue in B12 deficiency is swollen, red, painful, and smooth. The tiny taste buds disappear.


Is B12 Deficiency Associated With Weight Gain?

Though vitamin B12 deficiency does not directly cause weight gain, the weakness, fatigue feeling, and tiredness due to B12 deficiency-induced anemia can make one physically less active contributing to weight gain.


How to Promptly Raise Vitamin B12 Levels?

Including the following food items and supplements consistently can help increase B12 levels.
- Beef.
- Chicken.
- Liver.
- Milk.
- Cheese.
- Yogurt.
- Fortified cereals.
- Eggs.
- Fish and shellfish.
- Vitamin B12 supplements.


Which Food Needs to Be Avoided for Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Alcohol needs to be avoided to prevent the vitamin B12 deficiency. It was found that alcohols tend to reduce B12 levels and provided false test results indicating increased vitamin B12 levels due to alcohol-induced liver disease.


How Long Does It Take for B12 Levels to Become Normal?

Vitamin B12 levels do not surge to normal levels immediately after supplementation or dietary intake. It takes at least six to twelve months for your symptoms to improve.


How Long Do B12 Supplements Take To Work?

Vitamin B12 supplements in the form of injections show immediate results within two to three days of administration. However, supplements are suggested for an extended period to maintain the achieved normal levels and prevent the recurrence of deficiency.


Which Fruit Is Packed With Vitamin B12?

Fruits do not contain vitamin B12. Plant-based foods are not sources of vitamin B12. Instead, fruits, especially citrus ones, contain another B vitamin, folate.


What Medications Should I Not Take Along With B12?

The following drugs decrease the absorption of B12.
- Antacids - Proton pump inhibitors, H2 receptor blockers.
- Antibiotics - Gentamicin, Neomycin, Tobramycin.
- Antidiabetic Drugs - Metformin.
- Anti-Seizure Drugs - Phenytoin, Phenobarbital.
- Colchicine.


Should B12 Injections Be Taken Lifelong?

The root cause for vitamin B12 deficiency decides whether one needs to take B12 injections temporarily or lifelong. Chronic conditions like a surgically removed stomach or small intestine’s part, aging, veganism, being under lifelong medications for diabetes, acidity, etc., need lifelong injections.


Can B12 Correct Nerve Damage Problems?

Vitamin B12 supplements can prevent further progress of nerve damage but are not found to reverse the nerve damage.


Is It Advisable to Take B12 in the Morning or at Night?

It is advisable to take vitamin B12 supplements (tablets) early in the morning with a glass of water on an empty stomach. If you plan to take it at night, it is better to have your dinner early and consume it before your bedtime, to maintain optimal hours’ gap between food and medicine as they are better absorbed in the acidic environment of an empty stomach.

Last reviewed at:
28 Apr 2022  -  1 min read




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