3 Signs You're Deficient In Vitamin B12 + 7 Foods To Add To Your Diet
Many cases of vitamin B12 deficiency are overlooked or misdiagnosed1, according to a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. This is often due to misconceptions, like vitamin B12 deficiency can only occur in conjunction with anemia or that it only affects the elderly.
The best way to find out if you have a B12 deficiency is to get tested, and clinical dietitian nutritionist Steph Grasso, M.S., R.D., says to look out for these three symptoms:
Constantly feeling tired.
Vitamin B12 plays a major role in preventing a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia2, characterized by oversize red blood cells and a lack of folate or B12. The condition commonly leads to symptoms, like tiredness and weakness.
Additionally, "Deficiencies in cobalamin (vitamin B12)3 can result in diminished energy and exercise tolerance, together with fatigue and shortness of breath," one study states.
Studies have linked vitamin B12 deficiencies with cognitive impairment4, including things like brain fog, lack of concentration, poor memory, and even a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. "People with higher levels of vitamin B12 seem to have less brain shrinkage as they get older," psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., P.T., previously told mbg. "Taking vitamin B12 when you are deficient can be helpful to address memory, mental clarity, overall energy, and depressed mood."
Tingly hands and feet.
Think about the pins and needles feeling you get when your foot is about to fall asleep—if that's happening often, it could be a sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Because the vitamin plays an essential role in the nervous system5, when it's lacking, it can lead to demyelination of nerves in the central nervous system6. In other words, the protective coating of the nerves can experience damage, leading to this tingling sensation.
7 vitamin B12-rich foods.
To get more vitamin B12 in your diet, Grasso recommends eating these seven foods:
- Nutritional yeast
- Fortified cereals
- Fortified milk
For a day full of vitamin B12-rich meals, try these recipes:
- Breakfast: Frittatas or quiche with a glass of fortified milk.
- Lunch: Tuna salad or tuna pasta.
- Dinner: Grilled salmon or beef liver with a side of nutrient-dense veggies and grains.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.