This is how you recognize a vitamin B12 deficiency

This is how you recognize a vitamin B12 deficiency
This is how you recognize a vitamin B12 deficiency

Do you feel tired and weak and are you often dizzy? Then you may have a vitamin B12 deficiency. A B12 deficiency occurs relatively often. We tell you what you should pay attention to.

Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin. This nutrient plays a role in the functioning of your nervous system and the formation of red blood cells. A vitamin B12 deficiency is common. It is therefore important to recognize the symptoms and to know when you are at risk of developing a deficiency.


You can become vitamin B12 deficient if you follow a vegan diet or if you are a vegetarian and don’t eat enough eggs or dairy products to meet your vitamin B12 needs. In addition, you may develop a deficiency if you have one of the following conditions:

  • Chronic gastritis
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Bacterial overgrowth
  • Parasitic infection
  • Immune system disorders, such as Graves’ disease or lupus


Certain antacids, H2 blockers and diabetes medications can also cause a deficiency. This is because they disrupt the absorption of vitamin B12. You can recognize a deficiency of this vitamin by the following symptoms:

1. You feel tired and weak
If you are deficient in vitamin B12, your body does not produce enough red blood cells. These cells transport oxygen through your body. If your cells do not receive enough oxygen, this will affect your energy level.

2. You feel dizzy and short of breath
Due to the lack of oxygen in your blood, you may suffer from dizziness and shortness of breath if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency. These complaints can also have other causes, so it may be a good idea to discuss them with your doctor.

3. Pale or yellowish skin
People with a vitamin B12 deficiency often have pale or yellowish skin. The whites of their eyes are also somewhat yellowish. This happens when the deficiency of this vitamin causes problems in the production of red blood cells. In that case, the red blood cells that your bone marrow produces are so large that they have difficulty getting through your bone marrow.

The enlarged red blood cells are also very weak, making them easy to break down. All this means that fewer of these cells circulate in your body, giving your skin a somewhat pale color. Because there is proportionally more bilirubin in your body, your skin looks somewhat yellowish.

4. Mood swings
A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause high homocysteine ​​levels in your body. This amino acid can complicate the signals to and from your brain, which can easily change your mood. However, this is a thing of the past once you have sufficient vitamin B12 in your body again.

5. Sore tongue
A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a painful, red and swollen tongue. Your tongue may also feel slippery due to the disappearance of the small bumps in which your taste buds are located. There are people who suffer from a burning and stinging sensation in their mouth. If you suffer from this, it is a good idea to check whether you have a vitamin B12 deficiency.

6. Stinging and tingling sensation
If your nerves are affected by a long-term deficiency of vitamin B12, you may experience a pricking and tingling sensation. However, this feeling can also occur with other health complaints, so it does not necessarily indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency.

7. Blurred or disturbed vision
If the nerves to your eyes are damaged by a vitamin B12 deficiency, you may experience blurred or disturbed vision. Although this may shock you, this complaint can easily be remedied by taking extra vitamin B12.

8. Your mobility changes
If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency for a long time, your nerves can become damaged and you can have problems with your balance and coordination.

9. High body temperature
Although this complaint is quite rare, there are people who regained a normal body temperature after they had sufficient vitamin B12 in their body again.

What does this mean?

Especially as a vegetarian and vegan, make sure you eat food that is enriched with vitamin B12 or take a good supplement. The same applies to anyone who suffers from the conditions mentioned in this article. If you have one of the above complaints, it is advisable to have your blood tested for a vitamin B12 deficiency.

This article previously appeared with our colleagues at

Text: Annemiek – Pure Figure | Image: Adobe Stock

The article is in Dutch

Tags: recognize vitamin B12 deficiency


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