Is B12 Critical for the Body?


Do you know how dangerous a vitamin B12 deficiency can be? Many people walk around with a B12 deficiency and don’t realize it until symptoms appear. 

This essential nutrient plays an enormous role in many aspects of your health, from creating DNA and red blood cells to supporting bone health and stabilizing your mood by stimulating Serotonin–the feel-good hormone. It also elevates your energy level. But we can’t forget how critical it is for nourishing the brain and the peripheral nervous system. 

vegan diet food

What is B12 Deficiency?

Most people believe vitamin B12 deficiencies are rare in the U.S., but that is COMPLETELY FALSE.

First, it’s important to realize that B12 is an essential vitamin, meaning our bodies can’t make it. We must eat red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products in our diet.  

Since most of the population eats these products, the standard medical community assumes a B12 deficiency rarely occurs. You can’t just look at what people are eating to determine if someone has a deficiency. You also have to consider other things they do that very quickly deplete their bodies of B vitamins.

What Are the Symptoms of B12 Deficiency?

B12 deficiencies can be difficult to catch. But, some symptoms can help determine if someone has a B12 deficiency. Some of these symptoms include: 

  1. Unexplained Fatigue
  2. Pins and needles sensation, numbness, tingling, or burning in the hands or feet
  3. Muscle cramps or muscle weakness
  4. Poor coordination
  5. Pale skin (or when the skin and whites of the eyes take on a yellowish color)
  6. Frequent Headaches
  7. Difficulty concentrating or a feeling of brain fog
  8. Pain and inflammation of the mouth and tongue.
  9. In severe cases, it can include vision disturbances due to damage to the optic nerve
  10. Erectile dysfunction

These symptoms are indicators of a deficiency, but checking your levels with a doctor is an important step to determine if you have a B12 deficiency.


Can B12 Deficiency Cause Peripheral Neuropathy?

A B12 deficiency severely affects the body, especially the peripheral and central nervous systems.

Peripheral Neuropathy

First, it can cause severe peripheral neuropathy. Lack of vitamin B12 can cause a breakdown in the myelin sheath of the nerve, the insulating coating around all nerves, including the brain and spinal cord.

The brain and spinal cord transmit electrical signals quickly from the brain to the nerves and back. Damaged myelin causes these impulses to slow down, resulting in peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

B12 is necessary for nerve growth and regeneration. Without this critical nutrient, the damaged nerve doesn’t get repaired.

Brain Function

B12 is also extremely important for brain function. A lack of it can result in cognitive impairment and brain atrophy (or shrinkage of the brain). The brain atrophy leads to significant memory loss and dementia.


Other Conditions

There are various other symptoms in addition to affecting the nervous system. Vitamin B12 deficiencies can also lead to anemia, fatigue, muscle weakness, intestinal problems, mood disturbances, and depression.

How Do I Increase My B12?

As long as you’re eating red/organic meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs, B12 increases naturally; however, processed foods do not count because they obliterate all the essential nutrients you need. Even if the food company adds B12, they’re likely adding synthetic, inferior-quality vitamins.

For those looking for assistance with a vegan diet or alternative sources for B12, various resources are available. These options include: 

Nutritional yeast

It’s a great source of all B vitamins, but especially B12. You can add it to rice, soups, eggs, or anything; do not cook with it. You’ll denature the vitamins. Sprinkle it on your food once it’s on the plate.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are a great source of vitamin B12, protecting your cells from damage, boosting your immune system, and decreasing inflammation.

Lions Mane

Lions Mane not only supplies you with B12, but it also improves brain function and concentration. Research has revealed its promising benefits for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. These mushrooms also help with decreasing depression and anxiety, boosting the immune system, and reducing pain.

Other Vegetarian-Based Foods:

Other options include: 

  • Spinach (make sure it’s raw)
  • Beetroot
  • Butternut squash
  • Tempeh–which is a fermented, high protein, plant-based food made from soybeans
  • Spirulina–a blue-green algae
  • Nori Seaweed and
  • Chlorella–a form of algae

These foods will have less B12 than their non-vegan counterparts. If you’re not consuming a large quantity of these vegan foods, you can still end up deficient.

Furthermore, eating these foods won’t reverse the symptoms once you have developed significant symptoms from a B-12 deficiency. When the deficiency gets severe enough, you’ll need a larger-than-normal amount of daily B12 to replenish the stores in your body. Dr. Coppola and Dr. Monteiro recommend including a B12 supplement in your diet. 

What Type of B12 Should I Take?

Many people order B12 without realizing the type they are ordering. You need to order a specific type of B12 for the best results. Currently, there are four different types of Vitamin B12:

  • Cyanocobalamin
  • Adenosylcobalamin
  • Hydroxocobalamin
  • Methylcobalamin

Dr. Coppola and Dr. Monteiro recommend methylcobalamin. As the natural form of B12, methylcobalamin has the best absorption rate and body retention. Meaning it reaches the tissue and stays in the body longer before being excreted in the urine. Always look at the supplement facts to find the formula with methylcobalamin.

Struggling with Neuropathy?

Book a consultation with one of America’s leading experts in peripheral neuropathy. Dr. Coppola and Dr. Monteiro have worked with neuropathy patients for almost 20 years and conduct seminars on the subject to help patients and doctors improve and reverse neuropathy.

To schedule an appointment, visit or call our customer service representatives at (844)400-0101. They are available Mondays through Fridays from 9 am to 5 pm EST. 

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