Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B Deficiency

5 minutes read

You might be unaware that some minor discomfort like pins and needles in the hands and feet, muscle weakness, dizziness, and forgetfulness – which are often ignored – could, in fact, be signs of Vitamin B deficiency. The good news is that the symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency are usually manageable, but it’s important to be aware of the warning signs so you can get an early diagnosis and treatment. Read on to learn more ¹ ² ³

In this article:
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B Deficiency

What Are the Symptoms of Vitamin B Deficiency?

Here are some of the main signs and symptoms of Vitamin B Deficiency: 

Peripheral Nervous System Symptoms 4 5

Vitamin B deficiency can cause the peripheral nerves to function poorly and highlight certain symptoms*. These symptoms* are generally experienced in the hands and feet and tend to be more severe at rest. They include: 

  • Muscle weakness. A lack of strength in your hands and feet – you may not be able to sustain or exert much weight, pressure, or strain as you used to. 

  • Pins and needles. A prickling tingling sensation in the hands and feet that may spread up the limbs – the same feeling as when your hands and feet are growing numb or recovering from numbness. 

  • Numbness. The sensation of wearing invisible gloves or socks that stops you from feeling touch – you might describe it as if your hands or feet have “gone to sleep.” 

  • Tingling. A stinging, prickling, or thrilling sensation – may feel like electric shocks or ants crawling on your skin. 

Central Nervous System Symptoms 36

Vitamin B plays an important part in the metabolism of the nervous system by impacting myelin formation, which is the coating around your nerves that help keep them healthy. If you are Vitamin B deficient, you may experience: 

  • Forgetfulness. You are more likely to forget things, e.g., where you put your keys, peoples’ names and items on your to-do list. 

  • Feeling moody. You are more irritable than usual and experience more frequent mood swings. 

  • Confusion. Feeling uncertain or unsure of everyday things, e.g., names, places, times. 

  • Feeling down. You feel more sad than usual. You do not have any interest in things that normally interest you. 

Additional Systemic Symptoms 1 

These symptoms* might be related to a Vitamin B deficiency. They include: 

  • Muscle cramps. A painful sudden tightening or ‘spasm’ of a muscle. Often happens in your calf or foot muscles. 

  • Fatigue. A feeling of weariness or exhaustion. You may feel more tired than usual or wake up feeling tired. 

  • Dizziness. A sensation of unsteadiness accompanied by a feeling of movement within the head. When dizzy, you might feel lightheaded or about to faint. You could lose your balance and have less coordination. 

  • Difficulty walking/climbing stairs. These actions become difficult, and coordination can be impaired. 

What Causes Vitamin B Deficiency Symptoms? 23

Vitamin B has a crucial role in keeping you healthy and safe. Many of your body’s processes, such as neurologic function, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis, require Vitamin B to work optimally. If you don’t absorb enough Vitamin B, your body will not have the correct amount it needs to function properly. When this happens, symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency can occur. 

There are many possible causes of Vitamin B deficiency, and some groups of people (e.g., people older than 75 years) are at a greater risk. 

Some of the most common causes of Vitamin B deficiency include: 

  • Certain medications or medical treatments 

  • Special diets that are low in essential B vitamins and other nutrients 

  • Some autoimmune diseases such as pernicious anaemia 

  • Low vitamin B intake, particularly in the elderly and people who use alcohol excessively 

  • Malabsorption from infections, surgery, or chronic medical conditions 

Signs of Nerve Damage You Could Miss 1457-11

There are some indirect signs of Vitamin B deficiency that you could miss. Some symptoms related to Vitamin B deficiency may be non-specific (e.g., they can be due to several other causes) or so mild you hardly notice them. Here are some examples: 

  • Dizziness. Dizziness is that feeling of being lightheaded, woozy or unbalanced. You might feel it when you’re very tired or if you suffer from low blood pressure, migraine, or an ear infection. But did you know that it could also be a symptom of a Vitamin B deficiency? That’s why telling your doctor what you experience, even if you don’t fully understand it is so important. 

  • Numbness. Numbness, the sensation of wearing an invisible “glove” or “sock” that stops you from feeling soft touch, may be due to poor nerve function resulting from a Vitamin B deficiency, long-standing diabetes, poor blood flow to the area or a pinched nerve in your spine. Numbness in your hands and feet will make you more susceptible to injuries from ill-fitting shoes, walking barefoot or handling hot items, so it is very important to find out the underlying cause and get it treated.  

  • Walking difficulties. It’s important to know that walking difficulties are not always due to stiff joints or old age. People with severe Vitamin B deficiencies can have numbness in their feet, so they do not feel the ground, or they might have muscle weakness and are unable to lift their toes clear of the ground - this makes their gait unstable and walking and coordination difficult. Whatever disease you think you have, explain to your doctor all your symptoms so that he can give you a complete diagnosis.

  • Muscle cramps. Muscle cramps can have many different causes, including Vitamin B deficiency and related nerve problems. If your muscle cramps are severe, don’t improve with self-care, or happen frequently, they could be a sign of an underlying disease or disorder. Let your doctor know if you’re experiencing muscle cramps, as well as any other symptoms such as weakness, burning pain or a loss of sensation. 

Is it Vitamin B Deficiency or Something Else? 711

Many symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency are associated with other conditions as well, so it’s not always clear whether they’re the result of Vitamin B deficiency or something else. This is why it’s important to see your doctor, who can investigate what’s really behind your symptoms. Only then will it be possible to find the treatment or other steps – such as lifestyle or dietary changes best suited to your needs. You may be advised to take a Vitamin B complex. 

In Short

Now you know that symptoms like dizziness, numbness, and muscle cramps could be signs of Vitamin B deficiency. They aren’t always easy to spot and can sometimes be confused with other conditions or even just dismissed as a ‘normal’ part of getting older – but it’s important to have any potential symptoms checked out as soon as possible. Early diagnosis of Vitamin B deficiency is key to protecting and caring for your health. 

*Symptoms may be related to another medical condition. For more information, please speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

If symptoms persist, consult your doctor

Talk to your doctor about the Vitamins B1+B6+B12 (NEUROBION®) formulation, dose and duration of treatment that is appropriate for you.

Article Sources

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² Shipton, M.J., & Thachil, J. (2015). Vitamin B12 deficiency–A 21st century perspective. Clinical Medicine, 15(2), 145.

³ Langan, R.C., & Goodbred, A.J. (2017). Vitamin B12 deficiency: recognition and management. American family physician, 96(6), 384-389.

⁴ Stein, J., Geisel, J., & Obeid, R. (2021). Association between neuropathy and B‐vitamins: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. European Journal of Neurology, 28(6), 2054-2064.

⁵ Hanewinckel, R., Ikram, M.A., & Van Doorn, P.A. (2016). Peripheral neuropathies. Handbook of clinical neurology, 138, 263-282

⁶ Calderón‐Ospina, C.A., & Nava‐Mesa, M.O. (2020) B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. CNS neuroscience & therapeutics, 26(1), 5-13.

⁷ Sukumar, N., & Saravanan, P. (2019). Investigating vitamin B12 deficiency. BMJ, 10, 365.

⁸ Spiegel, R., Kirsch, M., Rosin, C., Rust, H., Baumann, T., Sutter, R., … & Bingisser, R. (2017). Dizziness in the emergency department: An update on diagnostics. Swiss medical weekly, 147,(5152), w14565.

⁹ Pirker, W., & Katzenschlager, R. (2017). Gait disorders in adults and the elderly. Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, 129(3), 81-95.

¹⁰ Swash, M., Czesnik, D., & De Carvalho, M. (2019). Muscular cramp: causes and management. European Journal of Neurology, 26(2), 214-21.

¹¹ Ankar, A., & Kumar, A. (2021). Vitamin B12 deficiency. In StatPearls [Internet], StatPearls Publishing.

Applicant: P&G South African Trading (Pty) Ltd. Reg. No.: 1989/004241/07. |S1| Neurobion® Tablets. Each tablet contains Vitamin B1 100 mg, Vitamin B6 200 mg and Vitamin B12 200 μg. Reg. No.: H2487 (Act 101/1965).
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