It is so easy, in the mayhem of the day-to-day grind, to ignore when your body is trying to send signals that it is not being properly supported in one way or another. Add to that how much people caffeinate for “energy” or pop some kind of pill to mask uncomfortable symptoms and it’s not surprising that vitamin deficiencies get missed for much longer than they should.
Many of us, particularly women, regularly fail to listen to our bodies and accept a life of mediocre health.
One vitamin in particular, B12, is especially important. It is essential for red blood cell production, the bonding process of nucleic acids to proteins, and nerve health. In severe deficiencies there can even be irreversible nerve damage. Your long-term health and overall well-being cannot afford to overlook an insufficient intake of this vitamin. Read below to see if you have any symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
You may have a vitamin B12 deficiency if you often experience or have:
- Weakness, fatigue, vertigo or lightheadedness
- Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
- Pale or yellowing skin tone
- A smooth tongue
- Digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, frequent gas or loss of appetite and taste
- A pins and needles sensation, numbness, muscle weakness and problems walking
- Loss of vision
- Poor mental health such as depression, mood swings, or memory loss.
If you think you may be deficient please ask your doctor for a blood test to have your levels checked.
Those at highest risk of deficiency are:
Vegans and vegetarians
Since vitamin B12 is only found in animal proteins, those who choose a plant based diet should seriously consider taking a supplement to avoid deficiency.
People whose digestive system’s absorptive ability has been compromised
This includes those with pernicious anemia, atrophic gastritis, a thinned stomach lining, Crohn’s disease, or Celiac disease. Also people who have had long-term usage of acid reducing medication, or heavy drinkers, or those with a bacterial growth or parasite.
People who have had part of their stomach or small intestines removed, usually for the purpose of weight loss, are also at risk.
Those with immune disorders such as Graves’ disease or Lupus
In the case of autoimmune disorders, the cells that are supposed to be attacking foreign bodies instead attack the body’s own tissues. This hinders the body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins.
Those age 50 or older
As the body ages, so too does its ability to absorb and efficiently use vitamins from food. It is highly recommended that those over age 50 be tested for a vitamin B12 deficiency. Most need to take a supplement.
Perimenopausal, pregnant or lactating women
Many of the symptoms perimenopausal women experience (eg. dizziness, mood swings, fatigue) are similar to those of a B12 deficiency. It is important that women at this stage get their levels checked and possibly supplement to avoid exacerbating these issues.
For pregnant women, a B12 deficiency can cause negative outcomes, potentially even the death of their baby. Lactating women, in particular vegan breastfeeding mothers, need to keep a healthy watch on their vitamin B12 levels to avoid putting their babies at risk of anemia, developmental delays and even failure to thrive.
How to Prevent it Naturally
Luckily, most people can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by eating a well balanced diet that includes meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs. Vegans or vegetarians that eat very minimal eggs and dairy, need to make sure their diet includes vitamin B12-fortified grains. They should also consider a natural supplement.
I recommend Naturelo Whole Food Multivitamin as a well balanced, natural, vegetarian supplement to ensure overall health. Its ingredients improve digestive function for optimal absorption plus a full range of nutrients specific to women’s needs.