Wikipedia’s article is pretty informative but kinda dry and technical, so it’s broken down a little here.
This part is amazing: apparently B-12 deficiency can potentially cause severe and irreversible brain and nervous system damage! And it doesn’t take all that much to be deficient, either. Scary.
At levels even slightly below normal you get a range of symptoms like general fatigue, depression and poor memory. While they’re too nonspecific to diagnose deficiency, it might help to try supplementing more if you have those symptoms. Deficiency can also cause symptoms of mania and psychosis. Looks like if you have any kind of mood disorder, you’d be wanting to make SURE you’re getting enough B-12 into your system.
Here’s what happens inside you when you have B 12 deficiency:
- Your neural tissues decay into a spongiform state – like BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), commonly known as mad cow disease! You get holes in your brain.
- Other neural tissues swells up, putting pressure on surrounding nerves. (possibly choking off their blood supply!)
- As it goes on, your nerves also harden over with fat. (sclerosis)
- The worst of these changes are in the spine, but the brain is affected too!
Biermer’s disease is the main syndrome; it’s composed of three primary symptoms: anemia, gastrointestinal symptoms and neurological symptoms. That’s kind of vague, but that’s all that was listed. I’ll add more details as I find them. Mental disorders that can occur include irritability, focus and concentration problems, depression with suicidal tendencies and paraphrenia.
More scary news: these symptoms might not reverse after you start getting enough B-12!!!
I always knew supplementation was important, especially with the lack of nutrients in the average American’s diet, but I had no idea how sensitive the body was to B-12 deficiency. It makes me wonder if a lot of the psychiatric drug users would be better off with increasing B-12 or if drugging would even be necessary in the first place with adequate vitamin B-12 in the diet or from supplements!
Update #1: Thanks to Arlene McElhinney for pointing out in the comments that tingling/numbness in the hands and feet are another symptom.