What Are the Symptoms of Low Vitamin B12?


Quick Answer

A mild vitamin B-12 deficiency often causes no symptoms, but an untreated deficiency made lead to weakness, light-headedness, tiredness, sore tongue, pale skin and easy bruising or bleeding, according to WebMD. People may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation.

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Full Answer

Low vitamin B-12 levels are more likely for those suffering from atrophic gastritis, immune system disorders or pernicious anemia, a condition that inhibits the absorption of vitamin B-12, states WebMD. Heavy drinking, long-term use of acid-reducing drugs and conditions that affect the small intestine may also lead to a B-12 deficiency. To diagnose low levels of B-12, health care professionals perform a blood test. Treatment options include changing the diet to include more animal products, taking supplements or injecting the vitamin in the case of pernicious anemia. Although the condition normally responds well to treatment, nerve damage caused by the deficiency may be permanent.

Individuals can prevent symptoms of B-12 deficiency by eating meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy, states WebMD. Those on a vegan or vegetarian diet can eat B-12-fortified foods such as certain breakfast cereals. B-12 supplements may interfere with certain kinds of medicine, so talk to your health care specialist if you wish to take them.

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