Fatigue, insomnia, headache? How to recognize a vitamin B12 deficiency

Fatigue, insomnia, headache How to recognize a vitamin B12 deficiency

“Twenty years ago, I began to experience what turned into a long list of seemingly independent health problems. Headaches, depression, insomnia, peripheral neuropathy, fatigue, joint pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, a lesion on my spine and a variety of uncomfortable gastrointestinal disorders.” This is how Melissa Banigan’s article begins in an English newspaper. The reason identified after 20 years: a vitamin B12 deficiency. Do you think these symptoms are known? We have summarized the most important things about the topic.

How does a vitamin B12 deficiency occur?

There are several reasons why there is a shortage. Nutrition generally plays a major role. Vitamin B12 is present in animal foods. This leads to problems especially for vegetarians and vegans. Even the International Vegetarian Union therefore recommends taking a dietary supplement.

Pregnant women have a higher need for B12 and other vitamins. In the elderly, a reduced gastric acid production can result in poor absorption of vitamin B12. In individuals with problems in the gastrointestinal tract, attention should also be paid to a deficiency, because the absorption of the vitamin can be inhibited.

How does a vitamin B12 deficiency manifest itself?

Like Prof. Dr. med. Klaus Kisters writes on general doctor-online, a vitamin B12 deficiency has diverse and non-specific symptoms. Signs that you can’t pick up enough B12

– Fatigue

– Weakness

– and be difficult to concentrate

The question here is how exactly these signs show up. For example, you can’t stay awake for lunch even though you’ve slept a long time. Weakness is also evident in small activities such as wearing light things. Is the garbage bag too heavy? Then it could be because of a lack of B12. But these are just conjectures. It always says: Off to the doctor. However, a reference to B12 does not harm.

Other symptoms include:

– Pallor

– Balance disorders

– tingling and “running ants”

– Paralysis

– Confusion

– Memory disorders

– Depression

– Apathy

– Dementia

– gastrointestinal discomfort

In rare cases, brown discoloration of the skin has been noted.

Symptoms and first signs are diffuse. If one reads through symptoms of other symptoms, one often encounters similar first signs. Therefore, a vitamin B12 deficiency often remains unrecognized.

How to detect a vitamin B12 deficiency?

Pay attention to the symptoms we mentioned. A stronger indication create tests at the doctor. However, this has to rule out other diseases, as the symptoms are not unique for a B12 deficiency.

What to do with a vitamin B12 deficiency

In the case of a subjective deficiency, attention must be paid to the diet. We have already written a post on which foods you should eat. Another option is to use dietary supplements. Deficiencies may also be corrected by the doctor with injections and preparations.

In the case of an uptake disorder, oral intake is ineffective. The body no longer absorbs vitamin B12. This happens, for example, in the case of inflammation in the intestine. Studies show that a 200-fold amount above the daily dose is then necessary to compensate for the deficiency – i.e. 500-1000 micrograms.

How long does it take to fix a vitamin B12 deficiency – individual experiences

The Harvard
Medical School’s
website reports a 48-72-hour recording disorder. Individual testimonials from users on the discussion platform Quora show how quickly supplementation works. One user speaks of 10 minutes (“I knew my life was changed”). His weakness almost dissipated within an hour. Even in more serious cases, there is a rapid improvement. When a user got B12 intravenously, he was better off and he was able to walk up and down the corridor in the hospital for the first time. But if you don’t have a deficit, you probably won’t feel a big change.

The underestimated vitamin

As you can see, an unrecognized vitamin B12 deficiency of minor signs such as fatigue, exhaustion and weakness leads to worse symptoms. Unfortunately, this undersupply is often difficult to detect because the symptoms also occur in other diseases. In order to always absorb sufficient vitamin B12, it is important to eat properly. Dietary supplements can help if there is a deficiency or there is not enough time for a balanced diet. First effects and a rapid improvement in symptoms many individuals then feel very quickly. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you should pay even more attention to your body, as the vitamin does not occur in plants.

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