Vitamins for B12 Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

by Michael Gonzales | May 29, 2023

Vitamins for B12 Deficiency Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Vitamin B12 is a vitamin. Deficiency is a serious medical condition that can impact an individual's overall health and even lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated. While the causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency vary, it is important for those at risk to be aware of symptoms, recommended treatments, and prevention strategies.

This article examines vitamins for B12 Deficiency, including its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and potential consequences when not managed properly. For those in danger of developing a Vitamin B12 Deficiency, having the appropriate knowledge about this condition can help identify risks and quickly initiate beneficial steps towards recovery and prevention.

Short Summary

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency is a condition caused by inadequate intake or absorption of the vitamin, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and neurological issues.

  • Diagnosis and treatment of Vitamin B12 deficiency involves blood tests, injections, oral supplements, dietary modifications, and regular monitoring.

  • Prevention and early treatment of Vitamin B12 deficiency is essential in order to avoid potentially life-threatening complications.

What is Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

What is Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Vitamin B12 deficiency is a condition in which the body does not possess sufficient Vitamin B12. It is generally caused by inadequate dietary intake, yet can also be a result of conditions affecting the stomach or intestines that impede the absorption of the vitamin. Common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, lethargy, yellow skin, and a sore tongue. Additionally, neurologic deficits such as neuropathy and ataxia may be present, as well as megaloblastic anemia.

If left untreated, some of the issues caused by Vitamin B12 deficiency can be irreversible. Consequently, it is essential to diagnose and treat Vitamin B12 deficiency in a timely manner, as the symptoms may improve with treatment.

Risk factors for developing Vitamin B12 deficiency include long-term use of proton pump inhibitors, vegetarian diet, and other conditions that interfere with the body's ability to absorb the vitamin.

What are the Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

What are the Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
The indications of Vitamin B12 deficiency vary from person to person, but some of the most commonly reported symptoms include fatigue, weakness, numbness or tingling, difficulty walking, mood changes, memory loss, disorientation, and dementia. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause megaloblastic anemia, which is a condition caused by impaired DNA synthesis, resulting in symptoms such as pallor and fatigue. Glossitis, an inflammation of the tongue characterized by redness and pain, is also often associated with Vitamin B12 deficiency.

For infants, Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to failure to thrive, motor skill difficulties, delays in achieving developmental objectives, and anemia. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause neurological issues that affect the nervous system, such as headaches. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, constipation, bloating, and gas may be experienced.

What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune condition that is the primary cause of vitamin B12 deficiency. This condition arises when antibodies attack the stomach lining cells, preventing them from producing intrinsic factor, which is essential for the absorption of vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can be caused by conditions or surgeries that affect the stomach or intestines, certain medications or inadequate dietary intake. Other factors like age, veganism, alcohol abuse and eating disorders also contribute to Vitamin B12 deficiency. Individuals who adhere to a vegan diet, as well as those aged over 75 or over 65, are more likely to develop a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Pernicious Anemia

Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disorder. Antibodies to intrinsic factors are developed within the body when a person has this condition. Without intrinsic factor, the body is unable to absorb vitamin B12, resulting in vitamin B12 deficiency.

The condition is more likely to occur in women of approximately 60 years of age, individuals who have a family history of the condition, and those who have another autoimmune disorder.

Diagnosis of the condition is done through a blood test to measure levels of vitamin B12 and intrinsic factor antibodies. Those with pernicious anemia are at an increased risk of developing stomach cancer.

Conditions Affecting the Stomach and Intestines

Conditions affecting the stomach and intestines can impede the body's ability to absorb nutrients effectively. This includes Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that affects any portion of the digestive tract. Crohn's disease can cause surgical resection, which impedes the absorption of B12 and can lead to a deficiency.

Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the small intestine when gluten is ingested, can also lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency. Gastric bypass surgery, a weight loss procedure that involves the formation of a small stomach pouch and redirection of the small intestine, may also result in a B12 deficiency due to the bypassing of the site of intrinsic factor production.

Medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers are employed to treat stomach conditions, however, they can reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, which is necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12.

Malabsorption, the inability of the body to absorb nutrients, can also lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency.


Metformin neomycin chloramphenicol, colchicine, and certain anticonvulsant drugs have been known to cause a vitamin B12 deficiency. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can impede the assimilation of Vitamin B12, and those taking medications that may result in a vitamin B12 deficiency should consult their healthcare practitioner regarding any apprehensions they may have regarding vitamin B12 deficiency.

It is important to note that folate deficiency and vitamin B12 deficiency are distinct from each other, with folate deficiency being a deficiency of the nutrient commonly referred to as folic acid or vitamin B9, while vitamin B12 deficiency is a lack of the nutrient also known as cobalamin.

Inadequate Dietary Intake

It is considered to be an inadequate dietary intake when there is not sufficient consumption of a specific nutrient, such as vitamin B12. Animal-based foods such as meat, fish, and dairy products are known to have a substantial amount of vitamin B12. A vegan diet may result in an inadequate dietary intake of vitamin B12 due to the exclusion of meat, fish, and dairy products, which are the primary sources of vitamin B12.
Folate deficiency can be attributed to inadequate dietary intake of folate, which is distinct from vitamin B12. Though, megaloblastic anemia, which can be caused by a deficiency in either vitamin B12 or folate, may present with similar symptoms. A vegan diet should also be carefully monitored to ensure that the individual is not at risk of folate deficiency anaemia. Individuals who adhere to a restrictive diet or who suffer from gastric bypass surgery, celiac disease, or Crohn's disease are also at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency.

It is important to note that a vitamin B12 deficiency can also be caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, which can impair DNA synthesis and disrupt the body's ability to produce healthy red blood cells that can properly carry oxygen. A vitamin B12 deficiency can also be caused by impaired absorption of the vitamin due to a lack of intrinsic factor, as seen in pernicious anemia.

Therefore, it is essential to consult with a healthcare practitioner regularly to identify any symptoms related to a poor diet or a vitamin B12 deficiency. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend dietary supplements for individuals who are at a high risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Diagnosis of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Physicians diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency by obtaining a patient's medical history and conducting a physical examination. A complete blood count (CBC) with a peripheral smear and serum B12 and folate levels are blood tests that are utilized in order to diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency.

It is generally accepted that B12 levels above 300 pg/mL are considered normal, levels of 200–300 pg/mL are considered borderline, and levels below 200 pg/mL are considered deficient. A person is considered to be deficient in vitamin B12 if their blood test results show a level of less than 150 per mL. This deficiency can lead to a variety of signs and symptoms.

It is imperative to rule out folate deficiency before testing for vitamin B12 deficiency, as folate deficiency can present with similar symptoms and may mask the presence of vitamin B12 deficiency. To ascertain the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency and determine the appropriate course of treatment, additional tests such as blood tests for pernicious anemia and other conditions may be necessary.

Some individuals with normal B12 levels may still demonstrate deficiency symptoms due to the amount that can be utilized by the body and varying laboratory ranges. Functional vitamin B12 deficiency is characterized by a deficiency of vitamin B12 in the tissues despite normal blood levels of the vitamin.

Drawbacks of Blood Tests for Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Blood tests for Vitamin B12 Deficiency are not always accurate for assessing a deficiency or sufficiency of Vitamin B12. The expense of the blood test for Vitamin B12 Deficiency can vary contingent upon the location and healthcare provider, but it can be costly.

Though normal B12 levels in blood tests may appear to signify adequacy, some individuals may still experience deficiency symptoms due to the amount that can be utilized by the body and varying laboratory ranges.

Currently, there are some types of blood tests that may assist in determining if the vitamin B12 in one's blood can be utilized by the body, however, these are not yet widely accessible.

Tests to Identify the Cause

Lab tests are of great importance in ascertaining the cause of Vitamin B12 deficiency, as they can aid in determining if the deficiency is caused by pernicious anemia, inadequate dietary intake, or other conditions impacting the stomach and intestines. Blood tests for pernicious anemia and other related ailments can be conducted to identify the source of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Additionally, enzymatic testing should be undertaken to assess the serum levels of MMA and homocysteine, which should be increased in cases of B12 deficiency.
To differentiate between Vitamin B12 deficiency and folate deficiency, laboratory tests can be conducted to assess serum levels of MMA and homocysteine. If the patient's indications and laboratory results indicate a Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency that necessitates further exploration, a General Practitioner may refer the patient to a specialist for additional tests or treatment.
Hematologists and gastroenterologists may be involved in the care of patients with Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Ruling Out Folate Deficiency

A deficiency of folate can produce some of the same symptoms as those associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Folate deficiency may manifest with symptoms that are analogous to those associated with vitamin B12 deficiency.

When examining the levels of folate in blood tests, a doctor will typically take into consideration the possibility of vitamin B12 deficiency, as a deficiency of folate can cause similar symptoms. Folic acid can help reduce symptoms of certain vitamin B12 deficiencies. This could potentially improve the patient's situation without guiding to an accurate diagnosis.

If folate deficiency is suspected, a doctor will typically assess for vitamin B12 deficiency prior to administering medication. Ingestion of a considerable amount of folic acid could obscure the indications of a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Functional Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Functional vitamin B12 deficiency is a condition wherein a person may experience symptoms and complications associated with a deficiency, despite having normal serum levels of vitamin B12. This can be caused by an issue with the processing of vitamin B12 in the body. Vitamin B12 Functional Vitamin B12. Deficiency may manifest as fatigue, weakness, and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. It can also result in complications such as anemia and nerve damage.

The typical treatment for functional Vitamin B12 Deficiency involves the administration of high-dose vitamin B12 supplements, either through injections or oral supplements. In certain cases, treatment may also include addressing the underlying cause of the deficiency. Nutritional yeast, meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products are all natural sources of vitamin B12.

In conclusion, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency in order to diagnose and treat it effectively. Blood tests can be used to detect vitamin B12 levels in the body, but these tests may not always be accurate. If folate deficiency is suspected, it is important to assess for vitamin B12 deficiency prior to administering medication.

High-dose vitamin B12 supplements are typically used to treat functional vitamin B12 deficiency, and nutritional sources of vitamin B12 can be incorporated into a diet in order to prevent deficiency.

Treatment of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Available treatment options for vitamin B12 deficiency include injections, prescribed oral supplements, and dietary modifications. A dietitian can provide assistance in creating a tailored dietary regimen to augment the levels of Vitamin B12 or folate in one's diet.

Once their vitamin B12 levels have been restored to their normal levels and their diet has been ameliorated, individuals with a vitamin B12 deficiency caused by a prolonged poor diet may be advised to cease their consumption of tablets. For those with a strict vegan diet, it is recommended that an oral supplement of B12 is taken for replacement.
Most individuals with Vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia can be effectively treated with injections or tablets to replenish the absent vitamins. Injections of hydroxocobalamin administered every three months are recommended for those with vitamin B12 deficiency not caused by dietary factors.

Blood tests will typically be scheduled a month or two after beginning treatment. This is to make sure that vitamin B12 levels are back within the standard range. A physician may suggest a yearly follow-up test after initial diagnosis or a treatment. This will be beneficial in keeping track of the health condition.

Prevention of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The potential complications of vitamin B12 deficiency, such as neurological damage, anemia, and heart and lung complications, are serious. Therefore, it is important to prevent such deficiencies through a variety of strategies. Patients who have gone through gastric resection surgery, those taking metformin and proton pump inhibitors, and elderly individuals due to inadequate nutrition, dementia, strict vegetarian diet, or lack of access to medical services are vulnerable to Vitamin B12 deficiency. Thus, individuals with potential risk factors for the various causes of vitamin B12 deficiency should be regularly monitored through laboratory tests in order to detect and treat the deficiency before any complications arise.

Vitamin B12 is found in a variety of food sources. These include meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, yeast extract (e.g. marmite) and specially fortified foods. People who are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency may benefit from adding dietary supplements or fortified foods to their diet, such as dairy products, fortified cereals, and fortified plant-based alternatives. Those with vegan or vegetarian diets should consult their doctor about supplementation, as they are more likely to develop a deficiency due to their limited dietary sources. Taking an oral supplement or having an injection of vitamin B12 may also help to prevent a deficiency.

It is essential that individuals with potential risk factors for the various causes of vitamin B12 deficiency are regularly monitored through laboratory tests in order to detect and treat the deficiency before any complications arise. Early detection and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency can help to prevent the serious complications associated with it, such as anemia, neurological damage, and heart and lung complications.

Complications of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Complications associated with Vitamin B12 deficiency, as identified by, include heart failure resulting from anemia, severe and disabling neurological deficits, a heightened risk of gastric cancer, and an increased likelihood of developing autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes, myasthenia gravis, Hashimoto disease, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Left untreated, a Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to serious health problems, as suggests, including severe neurological damage and, in some cases, death.

In addition, some of the complications associated with a Vitamin B12 deficiency, such as those related to the nervous system, may be irreversible, as indicates. Fortunately, with proper treatment, some of the possible complications of a Vitamin B12 deficiency may be ameliorated, as affirms. This is especially true for those suffering from pernicious anemia, which is caused by a lack of intrinsic factor and is the most common cause of Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamins for B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 is the most common treatment for Vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 supplements, B12 shots, or high-dose oral vitamin B12 are suggested as treatments for Vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is found in food such as meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. It is also available as a supplement. Vitamin B12 can also be taken in the form of a shot, which is a quick and effective way to get the vitamin into the body. It is important to take the recommended dose of vitamin B12 to ensure the best results.

Taking too much vitamin B12 can cause adverse effects. Additionally, people with Vitamin B12 deficiency may also be prescribed other dietary supplements, such as folic acid and iron, to help with the deficiency. It is important to speak with a doctor before beginning any supplements, as they can be dangerous if taken incorrectly.


Vitamin B12 is a vitamin. Deficiency is a growing concern around the world and has serious implications for our overall health, both physically and mentally. It can lead to dangerous anemia, digestive difficulties, neurological issues, and heart failure, among other complications. Fortunately, diagnosis and treatment are possible, but it's important to take prevention seriously by maintaining a proper diet with room for regular dietary supplements and monitoring vitamins for b12 deficiency levels in order to detect any deficiencies early on and avoid further health issues.

Treatment may require injections or oral supplements, however one should always consult their medical professional before starting as there are potential drawbacks to blood tests. It is essential to consider the individual's lifestyle when selecting the most suitable method of treatment, as this will ensure that they receive sufficient amounts of Vitamin B12 and do not experience any adverse reactions due to interactions with existing medications.

With the right guidance and care, individuals suffering from Vitamin B12 deficiency can regain their energy levels and improve their overall health quickly and effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

What vitamins should I take for B12 deficiency?

For B12 deficiency, it is recommended to take higher amounts of Vitamin B12 such as a supplement, B12 shots or a high-dose oral vitamin B12.

Additionally, changing one's diet to include B12-fortified grains can help improve B12 levels.

How do I boost my B12 levels?

In order to boost your B12 levels, you should incorporate more foods high in vitamin B12 into your diet, such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

You can also enrich your meal with fortified breakfast cereals or take a supplement prescribed by your healthcare provider.

What vitamins help B12 work?

Vitamins B9 and B12 work together to enhance one another's effects. Folate or folic acid helps B12 work more effectively in the body as it assists in producing red blood cells and aids iron absorption.

Additionally, B9 and B12 produce SAMe, a compound involved in mood and immune support.

What are symptoms of low vitamin B12?

Signs of having a deficiency of vitamin B12 or folate include extreme drowsiness, lack of energy, pins and needles, sore and red tongue, mouth ulcers, muscle weakness, disturbed vision, depression and confusion.

Therefore, it is important to keep an eye out for these symptoms in order to seek treatment and prevent further complications.

What happens when your low on vitamin B12?

When you are low on vitamin B12, your body can't make enough healthy red blood cells. This can lead to symptoms such as weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness, numbness, muscle weakness, psychological problems, and difficulty walking.

To prevent these issues, it is important to get enough vitamin B12 through supplementation and a well-balanced diet.

Recent Posts


Michael Gonzales

Michael has a diverse set of skills and passions, with a full-time career as an airline pilot and a dedicated focus on health and fitness consulting. He understands the importance of balancing a busy lifestyle with maintaining a healthy mind and body, and is committed to helping others achieve the same success. Michael's expertise in health and fitness is not just limited to physical training, but also extends to nutrition, stress management, and overall wellbeing. He takes a holistic approach to health and fitness, helping clients to achieve their goals in a sustainable and fulfilling way. With a strong desire to inspire and motivate others, Michael is always ready to share his time and knowledge with those who seek his guidance. Whether in the air or on the ground, Michael is dedicated to helping others live their best lives.

Liquid Vitamin B12 Supplement for Energy, Mood, and Focus - 60 ml Front ingredients

OPA Liquid

The #1 Vitamin B12 Supplement Drops!

Hurry up! Save 20%. Sale ends in: