Vitamin B12 is necessary for the formation of the healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen to your body tissues. This vitamin, also known as cobalamin, is also important in making DNA. Additionally, vitamin B12 is critical in forming nerves and maintaining a healthy nervous system. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms a day for the average adult. Vitamin B12 is found mainly in animal products such as meat and dairy items, so vegans are particularly at risk of a lack of B12 in their diet. Symptoms of B12 deficiency can be difficult to distinguish from other ailments, but here are some signs to watch for if you think you may be at risk.
12. Numbness or Tingling in Hands or Feet
Numbness or the feeling of “pins and needles” in your hands or feet can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency. A lack of vitamin B12 means the body is not able to produce the red blood cells your body needs. As the oxygen supply to your extremities decreases, you may begin to notice numbness or tingling. Since the myelin sheath that surrounds your nerve cells also relies on vitamin B12, loss of myelin could also contribute to that tingling sensation.
A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to low blood pressure. If you notice frequent dizziness or loss of balance, this may be a sign of low blood pressure. Foods that are rich in vitamin B12 include beef liver, clams, fortified cereals, and nutritional yeast. If you have been experiencing dizziness, and your diet has been lacking in foods like these, visit your doctor for a blood test. If you suffer from a B12 deficiency, your doctor may recommend vitamin B12 injections.