Recognize and prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency

A vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common. People often have vague complaints that a doctor cannot deal with at first. People are often fobbed off with stress, a cold or something else. But what are the symptoms and what can you do about them?

What is vitamin B12 good for?

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous system. But it is also necessary for the production of red blood cells. A vitamin B12 deficiency leads to anemia. Furthermore, vitamin B12 is also good for the immune system and for the formation of DNA.

What foods contain vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products such as meat, eggs, milk and fish. For people who are vegetarian, it is often recommended to take vitamin B12 pills and eat enough dairy. It is sometimes thought that seaweed is good, but that is not true. It does contain a substance that resembles vitamin B12, but it has no effect.

The symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency

If you have one or more of the complaints below, you may have a vitamin B12 deficiency.

  • tinnitus
  • headache
  • pale skin
  • intestinal complaints
  • nauseous
  • fatigue
  • muscle strain
  • hallucinations
  • depressed
  • irritable
  • inexplicably falling or accidentally bumping into something
  • dropping things
  • can’t think of the right words
  • memory problems
  • thick and/or painful tongue
  • a tingling or burning sensation in arms, legs, hands and/or feet

How can you be sure if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency and what are the causes?

A vitamin B12 deficiency can be seen in a blood test. If there is actually a vitamin B12 deficiency then further tests will need to be done to know exactly where it comes from. A vitamin B12 deficiency can have various causes. First of all, you may not be getting enough vitamin B12 through food, but it could also be due to poor metabolism or another disease. This will have to become clear from the investigations.

Pregnant women

During pregnancy it is also important to have enough vitamin B12. Because many women take folic acid during their pregnancy, there are often few or no symptoms that indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency. A vitamin B12 deficiency during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, but also to infertility.

What can you do about it?

If you do not get enough vitamin B12 through food, you will have to take extra vitamins or eat a little more meat or other animal products. It contains a lot of vitamin B12. If the vitamin B12 deficiency has another cause, you will need to discuss with your doctor what can be done about it.

Is too much vitamin B12 harmful?

Scientific research has been conducted into excess vitamin B12. This has shown that too much is not harmful. The body can limit the absorption of vitamin B12 from food itself if the body has sufficient supplies.