If you have been fatigued lately, or your usual chores appear to be weighing you down, there are chances that you may be suffering from B12 deficiency. B12 is an essential vitamin that helps produce red blood cells in your body. B12 is not naturally occurring in the body; it is derived from animal products like dairy, meat, eggs, and fish. Because a lot of the symptoms of B12 deficiency are similar to the symptoms of anemia, hypothyroidism, and other health issues, B12 deficiency is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed. Many vegetarians who do not consume sufficient animal-derived products, vegans, and lactose-intolerant people who cannot consume dairy-based products tend to suffer from this deficiency. Such people are often given supplements or injections of B12 to raise its levels in the body.
It is important that one discusses their case history with their doctor, gets tested for B12 deficiency, and only then consumes supplements. We’ve put together a quick guide to the common symptoms so that you can discuss with your doctor about getting tested:
1. Girls Don’t Wanna Have Fun.
Vitamin B12 is key to converting food to energy in your body, and therefore, it follows that if you are deficient in B12, you are naturally going to feel weaker (1). If you feel sleepy even after a good night’s sleep, or clubbing with your friends leaves you feeling more tired instead of wanting to stay up and trade gossip and secrets, the chances are that you are deficient in B12.
2. Shop-Till-You-Drop Ringing True?
Weakness from B12 deficiency could also be muscle weakness. The red blood cells transport oxygen throughout your body, and if the B12 deficiency is leading to a lower number of blood cells being formed, then you probably feel your shopping bags are becoming too heavy to flaunt. Even walking around the mall on a Sunday afternoon may lead to a sluggish Monday morning due to fatigue.
3. Missing Assignment Deadlines.
B12 deficiency also results in being or becoming forgetful or experiencing that foggy feeling in your brain. If you get a call from an irate cousin for having forgotten her birthday and her birthday dinner, and your boss or professor is frowning at you for shoddy work, it’s time to call your doctor and discuss a possible deficiency in B12.
4. I’ve Become So Numb, I Can’t Feel You There.
That’s not just a Linkin Park song! Yes, being B12 deficient can also make you want to sing that at odd times. If you have been B12 deficient for a long period, or have not been diagnosed, it is possible that you feel pins and needles more acutely than others. Shakiness, dizziness, and numbness are also a part of the package.
5. Eyes On You.
Can’t see that cute guy at the class or bar very clearly? Or, have you been missing his winks at you? Being B12 deficient can also affect your optic nerves (2). On the other hand, use the blurred vision to conveniently ignore some matrimonial calls, maybe?
6. Flat No. 204 Aunty Is So Annoying…
… That may be true! But consider this: B12 also manufactures neurotransmitters, such as monoamines, which can alter your moods. If the boyfriend, best friend, or the neighbor aunty has been bothering you more than usual lately, or you are feeling low all the time – it might be more than just your periods or those people. Speak to your doctor about getting tested for possible B12 deficiency.
7. Anti-Tan Packs And Facials Aren’t Working.
They aren’t because your dull and pale skin has to do with more than just the sun and pollution. If the skin is not being nourished from the inside, B12 deficiency is going to leave you with skin troubles that your beauticians and cosmetics can’t solve.
8. Pizza Sucks!
Really? Your favorite food no longer tastes yummy? Have your doctor check for a red, smooth tongue, which indicates loss of a taste buds due to B12 deficiency.
9. My Jeans Fit Better…
Before that celebratory, “Yay!”, take a minute to check if you are experiencing any of the other symptoms we have discussed so far. If yes, B12 deficiency can also lead to weight loss. Pick up that phone and check with your doctor if you are one of the 8 in 10 Indians who are being diagnosed as B12 deficient.
An increasing global shift to vegetarianism or veganism may be promoting higher occurrence of the deficiency, and it is becoming more prevalent in urban India. Make an appointment with your doctor and discuss if you have any of these symptoms and ask for a plan of treatment. Ask your doctor to put you in touch with a reputed nutritionist who can help plan a diet rich in all the essential vitamins.
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