Your body needs vitamin B12 for proper development and function of nerves, blood cells, and brain. Specifically, the presence or lack of vitamin B12 affects memory, mood, energy level, digestion, and more. Many people may not realize that they are deficient in B12 because the symptoms are similar to other conditions.

Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency

A blood test is a typical means of detecting vitamin B12 deficiency. The deficiency may or may not show up in a standard test. So if some of the following symptoms persist, further testing may be necessary. Deficiency indicators include:

  • Consistent tiredness
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Dizziness
  • Digestive issues (diarrhea, nausea, low appetite)
  • Mood changes (anxiety, depression)
  • Issues with memory and/or ability to concentrate/focus

Reasons for vitamin B12 deficiency

The best natural sources of B12 are animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs. Those who eat a vegan diet have a tendency to be deficient in vitamin B12. Additionally, as we age over 50, our bodies are less able to absorb vitamin B12 from food, and supplementation is necessary. People who smoke, drink alcohol to excess, have digestive disorders or anemia are also susceptible to B12 deficiency because the body doesn’t absorb nutrients as well.

Overcoming B12 deficiency

B vitamin supplements are readily available, and it’s important to purchase a brand that is easily absorbable. Not all supplements are the same, and your naturopathic doctor can make a recommendation. Another alternative is a B12 injection. An injection ensures that the vitamin is absorbed and usable by the body, because it doesn’t have to pass through the digestive system. Very little of the nutrient is wasted with a B12 injection.

What to expect

Self-diagnosing is rarely a good idea. Your naturopathic doctor takes a complete view of your health. Given his or her experience with you, he or she may recommend vitamin B supplements or an injection. If that’s the case, then you can expect to have more energy, better ability to concentrate, enhanced mood, and healthier skin, hair, and nails. These are just the improvements that you can see and feel. Other benefits include:

  • Healthy heart (reducing risk factors for heart disease)
  • Necessary nutrients for red blood cells
  • Proper functioning of the nervous system
  • Beneficial digestive environment

Talk with your doctor about how you’re getting enough B vitamins. Your doctor may recommend tests especially if you are a vegan, elderly, have a digestive disorder, or a chronic disease.