Your signs of low vitamin B12 levels may be different from your friend’s. One reason for this is that signs of low vitamin B12 levels may relate to one or both of two central systems: the nervous system and the circulatory system.
Without enough vitamin B12 the protective myelin sheath on nerves becomes damaged resulting in pain and any number of malfunctions.
While nerve damage is serious, it’s not as easy for doctors to see as enlarged red blood cells from vitamin B12 levels too low to support normal red blood cell division; instead of dividing, the red blood cells keep getting larger with the result they no longer fit through small capillaries and you begin to have numbness.
What complicates matters is that blood abnormalities don’t occur until much lower B12 levels are reached than those needed to cause nervous system abnormalities. This means that while doctors are relying on enlarged red blood cells as the most visible sign of “vitamin B12 deficiency,” easily obtained with a simple blood test, they often overlook or ignore the less visible signs related to nerves impacted by inadequate vitamin B12 levels, levels too low to support healthy nerves but not yet low enough to cause the enlarged red blood cells that have long been used to define “vitamin B12 deficiency.” It is for this reason that I think “low vitamin B12 levels” is a better phrase than “B12 deficiency.”
Because the signs of low vitamin B12 levels and vitamin B12 deficiency vary so greatly the medical community has often concentrated on one symptom and ignored a vast array of others. Many people with severe symptoms of low vitamin B12 levels harming their nervous system get no treatment because their red blood cells show no signs of deficiency. It is for this reason that I often write “low vitamin B12 levels” instead of “vitamin B12 deficiency”
Today, despite compelling vitamin B12 research showing the impact of low B12 levels on nerves, there remains a tendency among healthcare providers to go with the familiar past. That might not be good for you if you have different symptoms than your doctor has long associated with vitamin B12 deficiency.
For example, after I was diagnosed with “profound vitamin B12 deficiency” a different doctor said I could not have vitamin B12 deficiency because I wasn’t vegetarian. For that doctor, the first and most important thing she looked for was a vegetarian diet. Anyone coming to her who wasn’t vegetarian would not have their low vitamin B12 level considered as a possible cause of illness.
While low vitamin B12 levels experienced over a long time appear to inevitably lead to blood disorders, not everyone will have the large blood cells associated with advanced deficiency or the disease of pernicious anemia.
Because of the wide range and confusing variety of low vitamin B12 symptoms, it is useful to look at your fingernails to see whether they have ridges or are losing their moons. These simple signs show low vitamin B12 levels.
- Numbness in hands and feet
- Ataxia (irregularity of muscular action)
- Impaired reflexes
- Gait disturbances (for instance difficulty walking a straight line)
- Impaired vibration perception
- Positive Romberg’s test: closing the eyes increases unsteadiness; indicates loss of proprioceptive control (Proprioceptive: able to receive stimuli from muscles, etc.) Try closing your eyes and turning in a circle – losing your balance indicates low B12
- Babinski’s sign: Extension of the great toe and abduction of the other toes instead of normal reflex to plantar (sole of foot) stimulation, considered indicative of pyramidal tract involvement. (Pyramidal: anatomy: one of the carpal bones.)
- Lhermitte’s sign: Sudden electric-like shocks go down spine on flexing head
- Optic atrophy:wasting away or reduction from degeneration of nerve fibres of optic nerve
- Impaired vision, blurred vision under stress
- Chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia
- Concentration difficulties
- Impaired memory and memory loss
- Personality changes
- Psychosis: gross impairment in reality testing evidenced by delusions
For a better understanding read Areas of Cognition
Signs of anemia from low vitamin B12
- Dyspnoea upon exertion: Shortness of breath, difficult or laboured breathing
- Numbness in hands and/or feet
- Aversion to meat
- Faecal/urinary incontinence
- Loss of muscle strength
- Spasticity ~ tight or rigid muscles ~ can interfere w/ walking, talking
- Low self confidence
- Vitiligo: nonpigmented white patches of skin
- Frequent need to pass water
- Hair loss
- Diarrhea ~ Cause and Effect
Vitamin B12 deficiency is often seen in:
Any person with:
- inadequate nutrition
- a smoking habit
- high alcohol consumption
- coping with significant stress
People complaining of:
- loss of appetite
- loss of weight
- impaired memory
People who have had:
- resection of stomach or ileum
- stomach surgery
- anaesthesia with nitrous oxide
- Adverse reactions to anaesthesia /surgery
People using medicine affecting B12:
- antacids: Prevacid, Prilosec, Tums, etc.
- Omeprazole interferes w/B12 absorption from food
- Metformin: drug used to treat diabetes
- Solu-Medrol can lower vitamin B12 levels
- many antidepressants
Patients with Gastrointestinal disease:
- Atrophy of the mucosa
- Gluten-induced enteropathy
- Crohn’s disease
Patients with Autoimmune diseases to include:
- ALS – Lou Gehrig’s Disease
- Celiac Disease
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- following pregnancy complications
- who produced an unusually large placenta
People with eating disorders:
People with marfanoid appearance
Methylcobalamin – Active form of B12
Vitamin B12, and particularly methylcobalamin, the active for of vitamin B12, has been known to help:
- ADHD symptoms
- Chronic fatigue
- Depth Perception
- Viewing Color
- Speech (finding words, apraxia, articulation, etc)
- Sleep Regulation
- Neurotransmitter function
- Autoimmune symptoms
- Chemical Sensitivity
- Viral Infections
- Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, fibromyalgia
- Irritable bowel
- Eye or muscle “twittering”
- Nail bitting
- Visual and auditory processing
- Modulation of light
- Night vision
- Hearing problems ~ Improved ability to process sounds and modulate background noise
- Nerve regeneration
- Blocking the effects of ethanol
- Greatly reduces the desire for alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamines, and possibly other addictive drugs and behavior.
As an aside, when you buy through a link on my site you help support my site.
More about Symptoms of B12 deficiency
Initial symptoms of B12 deficiency are easily overlooked. Plus, early symptoms of anemia may be masked by folic acid, or by an iron deficiency. A variety of neuropsychiatric symptoms may be the earliest and easily seen and felt symptoms.
The most common neurological symptoms in low vitamin B12 are paraesthesia (numbness) of the hands and feet, diminished perceptionof vibration and position, absence of reflexes, and unsteady gait and balance — the range of symptoms is broad.
Psychiatric symptoms seen in vitamin B12 deficiency are varied and fall into several different categories: Confusion and memory disturbances are the most common. Depression, with or without psychotic components, and cognitive decline are frequent. Swings in mood and personality changes from low B12, if untreated, may become a psychiatric disease.
Such vague symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are easily overlooked, especially as the serum concentration of vitamin B12 often lies within the reference range. (In the United States the low for the reference range is hundreds of points lower than the more realistic low in Japan and Europe.)
Disorders in the gastrointestinal tract can give rise to a deficiency of vitamin B12, with symptoms being more or less pronounced. Poor mucosal function may also be a cause and may show up with glossitis (a swollen tongue).
The elderly are at great risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Age-related, often asymptomatic atrophic gastritis is common and may be enough to cause a patient to slide slowly into a negative vitamin B12 balance with depleted stores of the vitamin giving rise to dementia. (Because the low in the United States is so low, this slide may go unnoticed for considerable periods of time.)
Infants of vegetarian/vegan mothers are in danger of vitamin B12 deficiency, even though their mothers may not have B12 malabsorption illness and may not show any deficiency symptoms. This is because of the relatively high need for B12 in a rapidly growing child.
Finally, if your fingernails have ridges or you are beginning to lose your moons, please try Methylcobalamin. Keep notes so you can review after you begin to feel better with a reduction in the symptoms you may have found worrying and/or baffling. If you aren’t going to go to your health food store soon, order Methylcobalamin on line.
Vitamin B12 and Brain Damage I have found that stress coincides with lower B12 and the accompanying symptoms.
Stress can break you ~ Read more. If you like the scientific side of things, then from the scientific perspective what happens to you when you are under stress is that your telomerase, which is essential for longer telomeres, is decreased. The end result is that stress shortens your telomeres and short telomeres are related to illness and earlier death.
Emotions, Stress and Rate of Telomere Shortening: Are Our Cells Listening to Us? is a video of a lecture by Elissa Epel who documented the role of stress in telomere shortening. The lecture is excellent because it it’s both scientific and at the same time clear in ordinary language, supported by easy to grasp graphics and examples from studies that relate to a lot of us. Watch the video.
Blaming yourself over and over for events which would be long past, except you keep them uppermost in your mind, is one of the biggest stressors that you face. Yet you can bring yourself into the present and escape the self-blaming ruminations that lead to shortened telomeres so easily, just look at what’s around you and choose something that you’d like to look a lot better.
How I transformed a room and my mind ~ Read more.