B12 Deficiency Signs and Symptoms
When diagnosing B deficiency one must be aware that hypo-thyroidism, hyper-thyroidism, coeliac/celiac disease and pyroluria manifest with similar symptoms, and are common co-existing conditions. The signs and symptoms below may not always signal a vitamin B12 deficiency. However, if you are experiencing some of these symptoms your doctor should rule out B deficiency as the cause. This will prevent a misdiagnosis
Not all of the signs must be present to raise a warning flag for B deficiency. However, if you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed below, you may want to have your vitamin B levels checked. Testing B12 levels with blood and a MMA test will help with a correct diagnosis.
Sometimes what appear to be normal test results, do not correctly diagnose a B deficiency. If your doctor cannot define a reason for your symptoms and they persist, try supplementing and see if after one or two months you begin to notice a decrease in your symptoms.
Folate and iron deficiency often accompany B12 deficiency. If your B12 is low then it is important to have folate and Ferritin (iron storage) levels checked. Often a B complex is prescribed when treating a B12 deficiency.
Pyroluria is a condition that causes persons to have chronic deficiencies of zinc and vitamin B6 Pyridoxine.
Celiac disease is a disorder resulting from an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat and related grains, and present in many foods. Celiac disease causes impaired absorption and digestion of nutrients through the small intestine. People with this condition are often deficient in B vitamins.
Signs and Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
- Constant fatigue, low stamina or low energy
- Numbness, tingling sensations in fingers and toes associated with nerve problems
- Shortness of breath
- Diarrhea, nausea and constipation
- Increased depression or anxiety
- Bleeding gums or mouth sores
- Cognitive problems usually associated with aging that can show in poor concentration and memory. Often referred to as “senior moments.”
- Vision loss
- Pale skin
- Heart palpitations
- Digestive changes
- Smooth tongue
More on B12 Deficiency Signs
Neurological Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
- Paresthesia - numbness, tingling and pain
- Confusion / disorientation
- Weakness of legs, arms, trunk
- Impaired vibration - position sense
- Abnormal reflexes
- Unsteady or abnormal gait / falls
- Ataxia (Neurological disorder affecting balance, coordination and speech)
- Balance problems
- Difficulty walking
- Visual disturbances / decreased-blurred vision / damage of optic nerve
- Forgetfulness, memory loss
- Dementia / intellectual deterioration
- Disturbance in taste and smell
- Optic atrophy
- Bladder or bowel incontinence
- Impaired pain perception
- Nocturnal cramping
Other symptoms beyond these two lists can signal a B deficiency. On the other hand, other ailments can mimic some or all of these signs and symptoms. Therefore, it is essential that your healthcare professional rule out a B12 deficiency when making a diagnosis.
More on how other diseases can immitate B vitamin deficiency.