Tired much? It could be low B12.

Many people have no idea why they’re tired all the time and just can’t seem to get up the energy for even life’s most common tasks. There are many causes of low energy like sporadic sleep times, not enough sleep, or poor diet and lack of exercise. There is one vitamin deficiency often overlooked, even by people who eat meat- low B12. This vitamin is important because it helps the body make red blood cells, which brings oxygen to the organs and throughout your body. If you don’t have enough, this can lead to anemia.  

Symptoms of low B12 from WebMD: Fatigue, weakness, depression, dementia, numbness, paleness, and more.

Vegans have to be especially careful because this one vitamins is the one we are the most prone to be deficient in. But many other people can be low as well, especially if you don’t eat the high B12 foods daily, or in high enough doses.

Non-vegan foods high in B12:

Clams, oysters, lamb, veal, beef, turkey, liver (several species), Atlantic mackerel, fish eggs/caviar. So you can see how it’s easy to miss some of these foods.

Vegan foods high in B12:

Nutritional yeast, fortified cereals with lots of fiber, and non-dairy milks like Silk soy milk. I would make sure it says non-GMO though, and for cereals no BHT or other preservatives/chemicals. I think I could manage eating a bowl of high-fiber yummy cereal with Stevia a day, no problem.

The following excerpt is from WebMD. For the full article go here: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/vitamin-b12-deficiency-symptoms-causes

Vitamin B12 deficiency can have a number of possible causes. Typically it occurs in people whose digestive systems do not adequately absorb the vitamin from the foods they eat. This can be caused by:

  • Pernicious anemia, a condition in which there is a lack of a protein called intrinsic factor. The protein, which is made in the stomach, is necessary for vitamin B12 absorption.
  • Atrophic gastritis, a thinning of the stomach lining that affects up to 30% of people aged 50 and older.
  • Surgery in which part of the stomach and/or small intestine is removed.
  • Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Chrohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as Grave’s disease or systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs.

Now I bolded the ones that lots of people have done at one point in their life or another (college drinking), or ones that several people have and may not know it (bacterial growth or parasite). I found it incredibly interesting that the acid-reducing drugs could cause it. Which through deductive reasoning tells me that it’s because they harm the body’s ability to properly absorb nutrients. I’ve actually read several natural cures articles and books that said simply drinking some raw organic apple cider vinegar with water before each meal helped acid reflux and other digestive/esophageal disorders. I’d sure try that one first before drugs, but that’s just me.

A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. A mild deficiency may cause only mild, if any, symptoms. But as the anemia worsens it may cause symptoms such as:

  • weakness, tiredness or light-headedness  
  • rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • pale skin
  • sore tongue
  • easy bruising or bleeding, including bleeding gums
  • stomach upset and weight loss
  • diarrhea or constipation

If the deficiency is not corrected, it can damage the nerve cells. If this happens, vitamin B12 deficiency effects may include:

  • tingling or numbness in fingers and toes
  • difficulty walking
  • mood changes or depression
  • memory loss, disorientation, and dementia

It’s important to note that vitamin B-12 can only be absorbed in the small intestine, and due to common intestinal ailments, even meat eaters who consume high levels of B-12 can’t absorb it well in their gut.

The cheapest and most commonly available form of vitamin B-12 on the market is the synthetic form that’s actually bound to a cyanide molecule (yes, the poison). It’s called cyanocobalamn, and you’ll find it in all the big warehouse grocery stores.

Cyanocobalamin is a cheap, synthetic chemical made by men and women in a laboratory. You won’t find this form in nature. The proper form of vitamin B-12 to supplement is called methylcobalamin. This is the form that exists in nature, and is ready for your body to put to immediate use. Methylcobalamin has several key advantages over cyanocobalamin:

* Better absorption
* Better retention in tissues
* No cyanide

There are really only three methods for absorbing vitamin B-12 that reliably work:

#1) Shots
#2) Sublingual
#3) Skin

An easy remedy is to just take a sublingual (under the tongue) Methyl B12 tablet or liquid. They dissolve fast, and some are berry flavored. Just make sure it’s only methyl B12, not anything else you don’t really need. Remember my article on Folic Acid and all those studies; unless you’re pregnant or breast-feeding (which I’m sure most guys aren’t) then you don’t need extra folic acid. Just eat some spinach for Pete’s sake!

A great side effect I’ve personally noticed of the B12 supplementation is more energy and a faster metabolism.

So, in conclusion, it’s a simple blood test if you’re really not sure if you’re low in B12 or not. I had them check it when I went in for a physical for work, along with a list of other things I wanted them to check just in case like an EKG for my heart and checking for low iron (ferritin levels), etc. 

The bottom line is – take your health into your own hands. Your doctor should have no problem checking things for you, that’s what they’re there for. Mine actually commended me on doing my homework and getting educated about my own health. Besides, if you don’t do it, who will?


These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any diseases. As with everything, check with your doctor first. All content is provided for general information only and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Shauna Carpenter is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of her personal WordPress blog. Shauna Carpenter does not endorse any commercial product(s) or service(s) mentioned, and is not paid by any of the sites or people mentioned.