Vitamin B12 deficiency misdiagnosis
Vitamin B12 is essential for many important biological functions throughout the body; vitamin B12 (cobalamin) helps to maintain neurological health, DNA production, and continuous development of normal red blood cells.
Often, symptoms that indicate vitamin B12 deficiency- memory loss, fatigue, vision problems, and chronic pain- are confused with conditions that occur in aging, such as early-onset dementia, arthritis, and glaucoma.
Because symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency usually don’t occur until middle age, and because old age is often a risk factor for developing vitamin B12 deficiency, finding- and treating- the cause of shared symptoms can be tricky, as the rate of misdiagnosis is unusually high.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and aging
Losing your train of thought
- Difficulty summoning familiar words
- Memory loss
- Difficulty integrating new information
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Feeling tired all the time
- Feeling mentally sluggish
- Constant extreme fatigue
- Severe muscle fatigue
- Muscular weakness
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Confused and disoriented
- Frequently confused
- “Brain fog”
- Poor concentration
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Anxious and depressed
- Feeling depressed for months
- Panic attacks
- Shortness of breath
- Mood swings
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Muscles and joints always aching
- Burning muscle pain
- Constant muscle pains following exercise
- Stiff neck muscles
- Frequent muscle spasms
- Bone loss
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Arms and legs always “falling asleep”
- Paresthesia- painful tingling and numbness in extremities (hands, feet, arms, legs)
- Hands and feet feel “gloved”
- Unsteady gait
- Trembling, shakiness
- Electric-like shocks
- Frequent tripping or dropping things
Stomach or urinary problems
- Stomach not emptying
- Bloating, flatulence
- Acid reflux
- Loss of appetite for B12-rich foods like meat, fish, and cheese
- Esophageal or stomach ulcers
- Difficulty emptying or controlling bladder
Aging skin and hair
- Greying or whitening of hair
- Premature baldness or hair thinning
- Pale complexion
- Dry, itchy skin patches
- Brittle, thin nails
- Dents or ridges in nails
- Mouth sores
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- Eye floaters
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Night blindness
- Hypersensitivity to bright light
- Reduced libido
- Low testosterone or estrogen
- Low sperm count
- Frequent miscarriages or stillborn births
- Early onset of menopause
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Treating vitamin B12 deficiency
The most widely-endorsed treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency is supplementation through synthetic vitamin B12 injections. B12 shots are helpful for preventing severe neurological damage or death resulting from pernicious anemia, the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.
However, for complete alleviation of symptoms associated with vitamin B12 deficiency, you may need to supplement beyond the recommended dose of vitamin B12.
Many forms of sublingual or non-dietary over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements are available to help you achieve the goal of total recovery from vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, and may be taken safely without the need for prescription.
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