Symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency include weakness, lightheadedness, pallor, digestive problems and shortness of breath, states WebMD. A health care professional can determine whether or not vitamin B-12 deficiency is present by conducting a blood test. Other symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency include tingling sensations, muscle weakness, depression, behavioral changes and vision loss.
Vitamin B-12 helps create DNA and red blood cells, according to WebMD. Regular consumption of vitamin B-12 from animal-based sources and supplements reduces the risk of deficiency, although most individuals lack adequate levels. Vegans and vegetarians are at increased risk from vitamin B-12 deficiency due to their lifestyles, and this also applies to their pregnancies. Exact requirements for vitamin B-12 depend upon age, diet, medical conditions and specific medications.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can occur as a result of atrophic gastritis, pernicious anemia, gastric bypass surgery, Crohn's disease and heavy drinking, WebMD explains. Immune system disorders and long-term use of acid-reducing drugs can also contribute.
Individuals suffering from vitamin B-12 deficiency can treat its symptoms by consuming fortified grains if animal products are not an option, recommends WebMD. Supplementation and high-dose oral vitamins also work. Individuals with pernicious anemia or those who have difficulty absorbing vitamin B-12 must take initial injections before progressing to other methods. While treatment is effective for vitamin B-12 deficiency, prior nerve damage may be permanent.