Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient that is required for many body processes. The vitamin is found in a number of foods but the deficiency is still quite common. Normal B12 level ranges from 200-900 pg/ml. As we age, our body's ability to absorb B12 from food slows down. The biggest risk factor is following a vegan or a vegetarian diet without proper supplements. Usually, plant based diets are rich in vitamins and nutrients but B12 occurs only in animal based products like meat, egg, fish, and dairy. Moreover, taking medications for diabetes or PCOS can also cause B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency mostly goes misdiagnosed because the symptoms are not specific to the deficiency. Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr. Padmapriya Chandran, Consultant Psychiatrist, SIMS Hospital, Chennai, to know about the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Why is Vitamin B12 important to us?
It plays a crucial role in healthy brain function, maintaining our immune system, formation of red blood cells (RBC) and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 gets mixed with the protein in the foods we consume. A Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to several symptoms, which also includes depression which can cause someone to cry seemingly unprompted.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can make you cry?
Dr. Chandran says, "Vitamin B12 deficiency in the body can cause havoc on your mood, causing depression and anxiety. Lack of B12 does not let the brain synthesize chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that help regulate the mood. Therefore, there is a relationship between Vitamin B12 deficiency and crying without reason, as it triggers depressive symptoms." According to a case report published in NCBI, mood disorder and mixed psychotic features caused by vitamin b12 deficiency were reported in a teenager.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency
Intense fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency, as it can cause Megaloblastic anemia. Some people experience a wobbly feeling and have needle sensations in their legs and arms due to the enlargement of RBCs in the body leading to iron deficiency. You may face an early onset of dementia too as the posterior column sensation weakens due to lack of B12. Skin can looks pale, tongue looks red (lack of papillae in the tongue) and there might be a lack of appetite. Sometimes, in extreme cases, B12 deficiency can cause damage to the optic nerve causing blurry vision, double vision or even vision loss.
Other common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency are:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Paresthesia in hands and feet
- Cognitive issues
- Inflammation in the mouth and tongue
Therefore, it is really important to understand and identify the signs of B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 rich foods include beef, chicken, eggs, fish, and fortified cereals. Vitamin B12 deficiency often goes undiagnosed, so it is also crucial to get regular medical tests. Henceforth, if you discover any of the above listed symptoms of B12 deficiency, it is always recommended to seek the help of your doctor.