How to Know If You Are Vitamin B12 Deficient?

How to Know If You Are Vitamin B12 Deficient?

What to know about vitamin B12, including its functions, food sources, deficiency symptoms, recommended intake levels, absorption mechanisms, and the importance of supplementation .

2 mins read

Hello my Village people it’s Dr Okenye your village doctor, I have come again o. So you are wondering how to know if you have vitamin B12 deficiency. Okay so here is the secret questions to ask yourself!

  1. Are you always tired?
  2. Do you have diarrhea or constipation?
  3. Loss of appetite?
  4. Shortness of breath with minimal activity?

If any of the above answers is yes, then get your blood tested. Now, you need to ask yourself two additional questions:

  1. Do you have low or low-normal Hemoglobin levels?
  2. If you have low or low-normal Hemoglobin levels, then check the lab value for something called the mean corpuscular volume (MCV), which is typically presented in the lab data. Normal is around 80-100; if that number is close to 100 or more, then you may be B12 deficient.

At that point, it would make sense to discuss with your doctor to have B12 testing and a few other more expensive tests if needed.

Remember that B12-rich foods will include milk products, fish, steak, and eggs! Tasty! Sorry, my dear vegetarian/vegan friends, but you will need to use the tasteless oral B-12 supplements or get B12 injections!

You can also read Okenye’s post on “Heart Palpitations and What to Look Out For” and Kidney Stones: What and How You Can Prevent It

What to Know About Vitamin B12– Pernicious Anemia

In the earlier chapter, we discussed B12 deficiency and how to know if you are deficient. In this chapter, I want to discuss a known condition that causes you not to properly absorb vitamin B12.

It is important to realize that oral B12 supplements need a special protein vehicle to be properly absorbed into the body. This protein is made by the cells in the stomach, so people that lack this protein, for multiple reasons, cannot absorb B12 supplements through their stomach. This condition is called Pernicious Anemia.

They may notice that they are getting moderately to severely low on B12, which will cause them to have nervous system damage with symptoms like numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, confusion, depression, loss of balance, loss of concentration, irritability, hallucinations like seeing and hearing things.

These patients will need to get the B12 supplement as an injection directly into their muscle. We can also give it through the nose with a B-12 nasal spray.

Finally, I want you to keep this in mind: that a woman with a low B12 level may have a falsely positive pap smear. This is because vitamin B12 deficiency literally causes changes to the epithelial cells in the cervix.

You can also read Okenye’s post on Let’s Talk About Your Kidney Health

Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any new medication or treatment. This publication and aurthors does not endorse or recommend any specific medication and is not liable for any adverse effects from the use of this information. You can learn more about Dr. Okenye.

Emmanuel Okenye

Dr. Emmanuel Okenye, DO is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences/College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. He is ABIM board-certified and practices both outpatient at Evergreen Family Medicine and inpatient at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Oregon.

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