Vitamin B12 deficiency is a condition that affects all parts of our body- our brain, digestive system, metabolism, and more. That’s because vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is such as vital nutrient; it’s responsible for maintaining cognitive health, increasing energy, and sustaining red blood cell production. When vitamin B12 levels run low, we likewise experience the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency- constant fatigue, muscle pain, depression, and memory loss. Here is a comprehensive list of the various bodily functions that are impaired by vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 deficiency and the nervous system
Vitamin B12 protects our nerve cells from damage by sustaining the myelin sheath, a fatty coating that surrounds each individual nerve cell, boosting intercellular communication and shielding our nervous system network from damage.
Without vitamin B12, your myelin coating gradually disintegrates in a process referred to as demyelination. Only replenishment of vitamin B12 can restore the myelin sheath back to normal and prevent permanent damage to the peripheral nervous system (peripheral neuropathy) or central nervous system.
Symptoms of nervous system damage caused by vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Ataxia (loss of muscular coordination)
- Paresthesia (Painful numbness and tingling in the extremities)
- Abnormal, slow reflexes
- Muscle spasms
- Poor bladder control
- Tinnitus (ear ringing)
Vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia
One of the most important functions that vitamin B12 performs in our body is sustaining production of healthy red blood cells. We need a continuous flow of hemoglobin in order to deliver oxygen to the various tissues and organs in our body.
Pernicious anemia is one cause of vitamin B12 deficiency, and it causes our red blood cell count to plummet, causing symptoms of oxygen loss. Untreated, pernicious anemia can be fatal. Only continuous supplementation of vitamin B12 can reverse symptoms of pernicious anemia and restore healthy red blood cells.
Symptoms of oxygen depletion from vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Frequent breathlessness
- Bone loss
- Confusion, or “brain fog”
- Tendency to bruise
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Vitamin B12 deficiency and psychological health
There are many mood disorders that can mask underlying symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. Likewise, there is a high rate of psychological misdiagnoses that result from undetected vitamin B12 deficiency.
Psychological and cognitive symptoms that may be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Memory loss
Vitamin B12 deficiency and gastrointestinal health
There are many strong correlations between vitamin B12 deficiency and gastrointestinal disorders. Sometimes, gastrointestinal illnesses such as Crohn’s disease or fibromyalgia trigger vitamin B12 malabsorption, causing vitamin B12 deficiency. However, there are many cases of vitamin B12 deficiency actually causing problems with digestion and damage to the stomach and esophageal lining.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal damage that occur with vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Ulcers in the mouth, stomach or esophagus
- Difficulty swallowing
- Unintended weight loss
- Gastric atrophy
Vitamin B12 deficiency and the immune system
Your immune system may also be compromised with long-term vitamin B12 deficiency, reducing our ability to fight viruses, infections, or other diseases.
Immune system conditions associated with vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Frequent infections
- Low blood platelets
- Low red blood cell production
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Vitamin B12 deficiency and your eyes
Various eyesight impairments are also associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. They include:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Tunnel vision
- Blind spots
Vitamin B12 deficiency and reproduction
There is a high correlation between long-term vitamin B12 deficiency and problems with infertility and pregnancy.
Symptoms of damage to the reproductive organs resulting from vitamin B12 deficiency may include:
- Difficulty conceiving
- Frequent miscarriages
- Low libido
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Vitamin B12 deficiency and the endocrine systems
Conditions that affect the endocrine system that are frequently associated with vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Autoimmune polyglandular deficiency
- Endocrine organ dysfunction
Vitamin B12 deficiency and the bones
Over time, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to ailments affecting your bone, tissue, and joint health.
Symptoms of musculoskeletal damage from vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Frequent fractures
- Muscle pain and cramps
- Muscle twitches and spasms
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