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Are You B12 Deficient?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Many people who change their diets and begin eating more healthfully often end up with a deficiency in B12, an essential vitamin for optimal health. B12 is common among red meats, poultry, fish, and dairy. But if you want to cut down on your saturated fat intake, you may decide to cut down or eliminate these foods, which can cause a B12 deficiency. It is important to pay attention to changes in your body so that you can identify the symptoms right away. The symptoms are many, and may include fatigue, changes in vision, shortness of breath, problems with memory, changes in mood, or paleness.

Since the physical changes in your body are gradual, you are likely to have a chronic case of B12 deficiency by the time you notices any of these symptoms. So, I recommend that you get what is known as a “Complete Blood Count” test, or it's also called just a CBC test. It measures the concentration of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets in the blood. It will help your doctor determine if you have vitamin deficiencies commonly associated with those who restrict or eliminate red meat and dairy, such as vitamins B12, B1, B6, B2, iron, A, D, protein, and other common vitamin deficiencies. Another good test is the Comprehensive Metabolic Panels, or the CMP, that measures concentration of potassium, calcium, iron, and sodium. The CMPs also measure glucose levels, thyroid levels, Endocrine functioning, and a check of your cholesterol.

These tests are not always done, and you may need to tell your doctor to perform them. It’s a good idea to have them done during your annual physical. As with all maladies, early detection is key. So, pay attention to your body and get your regular check-ups.

For more reading on B12 deficiencies, check out the following Centers for Disease Control website:

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks Will,
    Your blogs are always so informative, especially to those of us trying to pursue a vegan diet. I was feeling tired and went to see my doctor. She ordered blood work, including a CBC. She was very pleased with my glucose, cholesterol, blood sugar, TSH, protein, etc, but the CBC results indicated I have anemia. My doctor ordered additional tests - ferritin, B-12 and stool, but all these tests came back okay. SHe indicated I need to take an iron supplement. I already take a B-12 supplement. However, I was taking a mufti vitamin without iron and iron was not one of the nutrients that I tracked on my spark nutrition page.

    Lesson learned - it is not enough to just cut out meat, fish dairy, etc. I have consciously plan to eat a balanced diet that includes ALL the nutrients I need.
    2182 days ago
    Thank you so much Will!! I called my Dr's office this morning and ordered the scripts for the CBC and CMP. I would never have known what to ask for. I can't thank you enough!!!

    2306 days ago
  • FREDM39
    Thanks for posting this information. Today I learned that I am B12 deficient and I have to believe that it is because I went to a vegetarian diet, almost totally eliminating red meat. I am just learning of symptoms, some of which I have exhibited without realizing what was causing the problem. So, I will be altering my diet to add more red meat and also, at least short-term, taking the 7cc of B12 orally as recommended by the doc. Thanks again for making this information available.
    2334 days ago
    Hi Will -
    I've had to watch some of this myself - and I recently got me some Vegemite here at a local store (World Market)...it's supposedly one of the top vegetarian sources of B-12. Have you tried it yet? Its' ummm a very interesting flavor!! I also saw this website http://www.healthaliciousness.com/a
    n-sources-Vitamin-B12.php but for vegans, they might wish to check out http://www.healthaliciousness.com/a
    min-b-12.php . Wasn't sure if you were aware of those sites already? I like sharing this type of info as I learn more too - we're both kinda like that! ; -)

    Take care!

    2443 days ago
    You always have such useful, important information in your blogs. Thank you for letting us know about this. When I head to the doctor the next time, I'll have to get this checked out.
    2457 days ago
  • LADYDI2049
    Very good information Will, this nutrient is so important and often lacking especially if you follow a plant based diet. My suggestion is that if you consume minimal animal products you should be taking B12 and not wait for symptoms to develop. You presented the information very well and it is an important topic. Thank for posting it.

    2457 days ago
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