7 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Vitamin B12

People with PCOS need to make sure they are getting enough vitamin B12. Why? Metformin, oral contraceptives, and common heartburn medications can deplete levels of vitamin B12. Conditions that interfere with nutrient absorption, such celiac or Crohn’s disease, can also affect levels of B12. Read our popular blog post NEW METFORMIN WARNING: MANDATORY SUPPLEMENTATION WITH VITAMIN B12

Why is Vitamin B12 So Important?

You don’t want to become deficient in Vitamin B12 because it can cause serious, even irreversible damage. Vitamin B12 can affect numerous systems in the body from causing fatigue, to nerve pain or neuropathy. That’s because vitamin B12 is needed to make red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body, help with nerves, DNA, and carry out many other functions.

Our bodies don’t make vitamin B12, so we have to get it from animal-based foods or from supplements. Vitamin B12 is water soluble meaning we don’t store vitamin B12 for long periods so we need to get it in regularly.

How Much Vitamin B12 Do I Need?

Adults need 2.4 mcg daily (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg per day if breastfeeding). Those with PCOS need more if they are taking metformin. 

Food Sources of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal foods, dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry, or from food items that have been fortified with it (check the nutrition fact sheet on the label to see how much vitamin B12 is added).

If your doctor hasn’t checked your blood levels of vitamin B12, ask them to. If you take medications that can affect B12, have GI problems, or if you are vegan, you should get levels checked yearly. Here are some common signs and symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency.

You feel tired all the time

Tiredness, despite sleeping well, is a common sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency. That’s because B12 helps red blood cells carry oxygen around the body. Without sufficient amounts, it can make a person feel extremely tired all day long. Tiredness can also be caused by other factors overlooked in people with PCOS. READ:WHY AM I SO TIRED?

You can’t remember things as well

A vitamin B12 deficiency can affect cognitive impairment. These issues include difficulty thinking or reasoning and memory loss and may be due to low levels of oxygen in the brain. There is some research to suggest a link with low levels of vitamin B12 and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. If you do experience these issues, supplementation of vitamin B12, if low, can help.

You feel lightheaded or weak

You may feel weak doing everyday activities like climbing stairs or cleaning. You may even experience heart palpitations and shortness of breath. This may be due to the heart needing to work harder because of the reduced number of red blood cells in the body.

You look pale

Pale or yellow colored skin, called jaundice, may be a symptom of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Jaundice develops when a person’s body breaks down red blood cells more quickly, causing the liver to release bilirubin. Bilirubin is a brownish substance that gives the skin the yellowish tone that is characteristic of jaundice. This type of B12 deficiency is usually seen in individuals with megaloblastic or pernicious anemia, which has an autoimmune component.

You feel numbness or tingling in your hands or feet

Vitamin B12 plays a role in the nervous system by supporting myelin sheets that protect the nerves and transmit signals. Nerve problems like numbness or tingling “pins and needles” sensation, muscle weakness, problems walking (balance) or joint pain are all signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency. The nerve damage that happened due to the deficiency could be permanent.

You don’t see things as well

Blurry or double vision, sensitivity to light, and even vision loss could be caused by a lack of vitamin B12 causing damage to the optic nerve.

You cry easily or worry more

Mental problems like depression and anxiety or behavioral changes is linked to a vitamin B12 deficiency. This could be because B12 is involved in the synthesis of brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine which help to regulate mood.

PCOS Multivitamin

Formulated with extra amounts of vitamin B12

Treatment of B12 Deficiency

If you do have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 (again, ask your doctors to check your blood levels) you will need to take vitamin B12 supplements. The best absorbable form of vitamin B12 is methylcobalamin. You can purchase them alone (usually as a tablet you can put under your tongue or spray) or in a multivitamin (we specifically formulated PCOS MULTI® with extra amounts of vitamin B12 in the methylcobalamin form.  If you are very deficient, your doctor may even want to administer vitamin B12 injections monthly.

Prevention of B12 Deficiency

If you are vegan or take metformin or other medications that can affect your vitamin B12 levels, it is recommended that you take a vitamin B12 supplement daily to prevent a deficiency. Eating animal products regularly that contain vitamin B12 is also important.

Have you had your levels of Vitamin B12 tested? If not, ask!

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