Symptoms of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Symptoms of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency.

I most recently had two patients in a row complain to me that they had serve joint pain, pain in the legs and they had  pins and needles in their hands.  As it turns out they were both suffering from a Vitamin B12 Deficiency, however the reason for the lack of B12 was different.

We supported them both with the right combination of nutrients and lifestyle changes that were best for their unique needs.  Both patients have reported that they are feeling so much better and their symptoms are no longer an issue.

How Important is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 has many important functions in the human body. B12  works with another B vitamin Folate to make up our body’s genetic material. It also helps keep the levels of the amino acid homocysteine in check, which may help to decrease heart disease risk, and it is essential to the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen through the blood to the body’s tissues.  Ensuring you have enough B12 is a big deal and a lot of folks are just not getting enough of this much needed vitamin.  If you follow a plant based diet and do eat animal protein you need to supplement with B12.

What are some of the Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Typically it occurs in people whose digestive systems do not adequately absorb the vitamin from the foods they eat. This can be caused by:

  • Pernicious anemia, a condition in which there is a lack of a protein called Intrinsic factor. The protein, which is made in the stomach, is necessary for Vitamin B12 absorption.
  • High Stress can cause depletion of adequate HCL in the stomach. HCL is needed to break down proteins and activate intrinsic factor.
  • Atrophic gastritis, a thinning of the stomach lining that affects up to 30% of People aged 50 and older.
  • Surgery in which part of the stomach and/or small intestine is removed.
    Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease,
  • Bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Fungus related conditions like Candida, or from a Parasite.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as RA, Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s, systemic lupus, MS etc etc
  • The Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs like Pepcid or Tums

B12 Deficiency and Genetics

  • Many of you could have a Genetic mutation: Typically in the Methylation Pathway which is part of the Phase II detoxification process in the Liver. The variants are typically in the SNPS called MTHFR, MTRR, or MTR. it is for this reason that I strongly recommend that if you are planning for pregnancy that you check both Genetics and B Vitamin status before conception.

As we talked earlier a Vitamin B12 deficiency can also occur due to Diet because the best food sources of the vitamin are animal products.

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. A mild deficiency may cause only mild, if any, symptoms. But as the anemia worsens it may cause symptoms such as:

Weakness or  tiredness, dizzy and light-headedness
Rapid heartbeat and  shortness of breath
Pale skin or premature grey hair
Chronic Infections and Addictions
Joint pain
Stomach upset and weight loss
Diarrhea and or Constipation
Migraine Headaches and Tinnitus
Loss of Taste or Smell

If the deficiency is not corrected, it can damage the nerve cells.

If this happens, vitamin B12 deficiency effects may include:

Tingling or numbness in fingers and toes
Difficulty walking
Mood changes or depression
Memory loss, disorientation, and dementia

Treatment for Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency treatment depends on the cause of the deficiency. If pernicious anemia or a problem with absorption is the cause, B12 replacement will be necessary.

Most often this is given by injection; some people may be prescribed B 12 vitamin tablets or a B complex formula as all the B vitamins work together.

As you know we prefer whole food supplementation over a synthetic made in a lab version.

Here are few of my favorites:

Cataplex B12, Cataplex B combined with Cataplex G, Folic acid B12, and B Core which is best if you have high homocysteine levels or have a heart problem. If you have a Patient Direct account you can use it to order your products.  If not then you will need to create an account and use my code. W8MJSC

If you advocate for a Vegan or Vegetarian diet, taking a synthetic version of B12 is necessary as you are not obtaining this important vitamin through the diet. The formula we recommended is Super B from Apex.  Contact me if you would like to stop by the office and pick one up or we can create a Fullscript account for you.

Preventing Deficiency Problems

Most people can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by consuming foods rich in the Vitamin B12.

Sardines, Salmon, Tuna, organic sources of beef, Whole Eggs, Yogurts, Butter and Raw milk are excellent sources.

Nutrient Interactions you should Know

The relationship between folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 is very close. A deficiency in any one of the three can impair the activity of the others.

B12 synthesis is known to occur naturally in the human small intestine (in the ileum), which is the primary site of B12 absorption. As long as gut bacteria have cobalt and certain other nutrients, they produce vitamin B12.

External B12 coming into the body must be combined with a mucoprotein enzyme named Intrinsic Factor, which is normally present in gastric secretions, to be properly assimilated. If the Intrinsic Factor is impaired ( think poor digestion and high stress) or absent, B12 synthesis will not take place, no matter how much is present in the diet.

Take the Doctor Home

The take home from this article is to look at the root cause of the B12 Deficiency. If you need support and help to uncover the best solution that is right for you then I am here to help.

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I hope you enjoyed the article??

My best and have a healthy week and make good for you choices.
Dr Pia