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Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is important for human life. Vitamin B12 has a wide range of functions in your body. It contributes to the production of DNA and RBCs. Animal items like meat, eggs, fish, poultry, and dairy contain vitamin B12. Fortified foods, such as certain types of bread and plant-based milk, include vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency is prevalent among the elderly, particularly in impoverished nations. You risk having a deficit if you do not take sufficient micronutrients or are unable to assimilate enough nutrients from your diet.

Sometimes there is a vitamin D and B12 deficiency together due to autoimmune hypothyroidism. It should be diagnosed earlier to prevent further complications. Vitamin B12 deficiency is manifested as hematologic, neurologic, and mental disorders. B12 is a critical vitamin, and deficiency is often caused by inadequate absorption of dietary intake. The quantity of vitamin B12 in a person’s blood serum determines their likelihood of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency. To define vitamin B12 deficiency, the picograms/mL values are considered. If it is less than 200, there is a significant probability of a deficit.


The main cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is the insufficiency of a substance called intrinsic factor. It is required for the absorption of this vitamin. It may be affected as a result of your immune system that targets the stomach cells that manufacture this protein in error. It also leads to vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. Vitamin B12 insufficiency is usually due to malabsorption.

It is likely that as we age, absorption of this vitamin becomes more difficult. It may also occur if you have had weight loss surgery or another operation that involves the removal of a part of your stomach, or if you drink an excessive amount of alcoholic beverages.

Other vitamin B12 deficiency causes include:

  • Gastritis (thinning of the stomach lining)
  • Pernicious anemia (difficulty in absorbing vitamin B12)
  • Celiac disease or bacterial overgrowth in the intestine
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Taking medication that affects the absorption of vitamin

If you forgo animal products like eggs, meat, milk, and cheese, or if you are a vegetarian who does not consume enough eggs or dairy products to meet your vitamin B12 requirements, you may develop vitamin B12 deficiency. Both veganism and vegetarianism are linked to a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. In each of these situations, you may fulfill this need by eating fortified foods or taking supplements.


Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency may appear years later, rendering diagnosis difficult and time-consuming. Some people mistakenly believe they are deficient in folate when they are deficient in vitamin B12. A vitamin B12 deficiency causes low folate levels. If you have a B12 deficiency, managing low folate levels may merely hide the issue instead of addressing the root cause. Some of the vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms and side effects are:

  • Pale skin and tongue
  • Discoloration of nails
  • Fatigue and weakness that may lead to sugar cravings which is linked with B12 deficiency
  • Pins and needles sensations
  • Mouth ulcers and glossitis
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disturbed vision
  • Fever
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia symptoms include headache, dizziness and paleness. Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms in adults also include mental issues like memory loss, depression, and mood changes

Vitamin b12 deficiency skin problems also occur in some individuals. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes hyperpigmentation, hair abnormalities, and vitiligo are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. Non-responding skin lesions may be a sign of vitamin B12 insufficiency.


D51.9 is vitamin B12 deficiency ICD 10 which is used to identify a diagnosis. CBC and vitamin B12 values are used to detect the deficiency along with the physical examination of the patient based on signs and symptoms. Vitamin B12 deficiency is indicated by values of less than 200 pg/mL.

Vitamin B12 deficiency tests are often performed to diagnose the condition. A healthcare provider may prescribe an MMA test, which can help identify B12 insufficiency early. You may be suffering from a deficit if your B12 and/or folate levels are insufficient.


Treatment guidelines for vitamin B12 deficiency include dietary advice, nutrition counseling, and regular monitoring of vitamin levels. Vitamin B12 injections are required if you develop pernicious anemia or have difficulty absorbing the vitamin. It is possible that you will need to receive these injections again in the future, or that you will need to take large doses of a supplement nasally or orally.

There are many alternatives if you are not a lover of animal products. If you are low in vitamin B12, fortified cereals, B12 injections, or high-dose oral vitamin B12 may be used to complement your diet. Most older people who are vitamin B12 deficient will need to take a daily B12 supplement or a multivitamin that contains the vitamin.

The majority of individuals find that therapy is sufficient to alleviate their symptoms. Any nerve damage produced by the deficit, on the other hand, may be irreversible. Most individuals may avoid vitamin B12 deficiency if they eat enough dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs daily. You may get vitamin B12 in the form of a supplement or multivitamin, as well as fortified foods if you do not consume animal products or if you have a medical condition that prevents your body from absorbing nutrients. Tell your doctor if you want to take vitamin B12 supplements so he or she can determine how much you need and if the tablets may mix with any other medications you are taking.

When to See a Doctor

You should contact a doctor if you have signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. These diseases are frequently identified and treated when the symptoms as well as the findings of blood tests are combined. It is critical to identify and treat vitamin B12 deficiency as soon as possible. Although many of the symptoms of the disease may go away with therapy, some of the issues created by the condition may be permanent if not addressed. The longer a disease goes untreated, the more probable it is that irreversible harm will occur.

Alice Jacqueline is a creative writer. Alice is the best article author, social media, and content marketing expert. Alice is a writer by day and ready by night. Find her on Twitter and on Facebook!

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