Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms can creep up, and it’s important to pay special attention to them because a deficiency can have permanent effects on your body.
If you have a deficiency, you will need to take a supplement to get back in balance – check out my recommendations – click here.
A vegetarian or vegan diet plan can be an extremely healthy way to eat and live. I emphasize the words can be because vegetarians and vegans aren’t necessarily healthy, and sometimes their philosophies can get in the way of health.
Vegetarians and vegans are often concerned about the environment, about artificial foods, about corporate interests taking over the food supply, or are convinced that plant foods are man’s natural diet.
All of these factors – on their own, or in various combinations – can contribute to a resistance to taking vitamin or mineral supplements.
Well, I’m not a fan of them either. I definitely have some of the concerns I mentioned, and I would love to see a world in which we could get all of our nutrients from whole foods and herbal solutions. I’m also not a fan of being an unhealthy vegan or vegetarian.
What I really want is for all of us to be as healthy as we possibly can be to show any skeptics that plant foods really are awesome. That’s why I put together healthy meal plans – to show you how to be healthy and eat more plant foods.
One nutrient that vegans in particular need to supplement is B12, although vegetarians and meat eaters can easily need to supplement their diet with it as well. Your body stores an extra supply of it, so it can take up to 2 years for any vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms to creep up on you.
You risk permanent damage to your nervous system and brain if you let this one get too far though, so be on the lookout for those symptoms.
Early Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms:
- Unusual fatigue
- Faulty digestion
- No appetite
- Loss of menstruation
- Tingling hands and feet (start of serious deficiency)
If you don’t get levels back up from there, it can result in permanent nerve damage and get very serious, causing blindness or deafness. Also, homocysteine levels will be high (risk factor for heart disease, stroke and complications during pregnancy) long before any of the early vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms show up.
If children don’t get enough B12 during childhood, their levels can be corrected but the period where they didn’t have enough can have permanent effects on their brain and nerve functions. Maintaining your own B12 levels while breastfeeding is crucial.
You can be tested for B12 deficiency by your doctor, and the most accurate method of testing is a urine or blood test called a Methylmalonic Acid test (MMA). It can detect deficiency much earlier and much more accurately than the standard blood test most doctors use to test for serum cobalamin levels and pernicious anemia.
If you’re seeing vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, or show low levels in a blood test, the obvious solution is to raise B12 levels. Depending on how low your levels are, go for any or all of the following:
- supplements (recommendations here)
- fortified foods (nut/grain milks, cereals, certain nutritional yeasts)
- B12 injections (done by a doctor, for severe deficiency or people who aren’t absorbing B12 through digestion)
Have you ever noticed any of these vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms in yourself? Have you seen or heard a friend complaining about them?