Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

Key Nutrients Missing In Many People’s Diets Today

While all nutrients are important, there are some that stand out because of the sheer number of systems they support in the body. One of these is vitamin B12 (also called cobolamin). B12 gets its master key status from researchers because it plays a functional role in a long, growing list of organ systems and can be used to correct problems caused by other issues, even if a person’s B12 levels are adequate. [1]

  • Vitamin B12 – particularly in it’s two active forms: methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin (also known as dibencozide in supplement form).
  • Magnesium (mineral)

Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

Some medical professionals are calling B12 deficiency a silent epidemic because even low normal levels can cause symptoms. A Tufts University study of B12 levels in participants between the ages of 26 and 83 showed that nearly 40% of participants were “low normal,” 16% had a near deficiency and 9% were deficient. [2]

While low B12 and B12 deficiency can happen at any age, it’s most common among the elderly, vegans and vegetarians. It is estimated that over 80% of long term vegans and over 50% of long term vegetarians who don’t supplement with B12 are deficient. [3]

People with a history of alcoholism, eating disorders, anemia, autoimmune disorders, infertility, diabetes, gut issues like IBS, Crohn’s and low stomach acid and those who regularly use antacids could be at risk for low or deficient levels of B12. [4]

Some Symptoms of B12 deficiency are: [5]

  • Abnormal sensations (tremor, tingling, tremor, muscle spasms)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss or anorexia
  • Digestive pain (poor digestion, full or bloated feeling)
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Generalized weakness (weak arms or legs, difficulty walking)
  • Heart attacks, coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure
  • High homocysteine
  • Incontinence
  • Infertility
  • Mood issues (depression, irritability, apathy, paranoia)
  • Memory issues and dementia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Paralysis
  • Stroke or mini stroke
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Palpitations
  • Premature gray hair
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tinnitus
  • Vision changes or damage to the optic nerve
  • Vitiligo

If you think you have B12 deficiency, talk to your health practitioner. Keep in mind that doctors may not recognize the value of B12 testing, so you may need to work with a naturopathic doctor.

The Urinary MMA is the best test to get, if you do decide to get tested. Be aware that some people with certain genetic mutations that adversely affect methylation (a key body function that keeps all systems running smoothly), could have tests showing false normal or false high B12 levels from something called “methyl trapping.”

The bottom line is that if you feel you have vitamin B12 deficiency, work with a health practitioner who can guide you through testing, interpreting test results against your symptoms and supplementation options.


[1] Volkov, Ilia, Yan Press and Inna Rudoy. “Vitamin B12 Could be A ‘Master Key’ in the Regulation of Multiple Pathological Processes.” Journal of Nippon Medical School 73 (2006): 65-69.

[2] Pacholok, Sally M., and Jeffrey J. Stuart. (2005). Could It Be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnosis. (p. 3), Sanger, California: Quill Driver Books / Word Dancer Press, Inc.

[3] Pacholok, Sally M. 3.

[4] Pacholok, Sally M. 18.

[5] Pacholok, Sally M. 14.


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As a coach, writer and recovered former executive, I understand the challenges of creating a balanced, healthy lifestyle when over-scheduled. In my journey to radiant health, I created a whole health system of eating, exercise, renewal and recharging -- a roadmap toward health & vitality. I empower clients to create their own whole health systems, in their own unique ways. I have seen amazing results in working with my clients!