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Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia

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What foods contain B12?

Vitamin B12 is found in foods from animals, such as meat, seafood, milk products, poultry, and eggs. It is not in foods from plants unless it has been added to the food (fortified). Some foods, like cereals, are fortified with vitamin B12.

Supplements containing only B12, or B12 along with other B vitamins and/or folate, are readily available. Also, B12 is usually in multivitamins. Check the label to find out how much B12 is in a supplement.

Estimates of B12 in certain foods2
 Food Serving size B12 amount (microgram)
Beef liver3 ounces71 mcg
Clams3 ounces84 mcg
Cereal fortified with 100% daily value for B12 1 serving6 mcg
Rainbow trout3 ounces3 mcg
Nonfat plain yogurt8 ounces1 mcg
Large egg1 egg½ mcg
Chicken breast½ breast½ mcg

What are the symptoms?

If your vitamin B12 deficiency is mild, you may not have symptoms or you may not notice them. Some people may think they are just the result of growing older. As the anemia gets worse, you may:

  • Feel weak, tired, and lightheaded.
  • Have pale skin.
  • Have a sore, red tongue or bleeding gums.
  • Feel sick to your stomach and lose weight.
  • Have diarrhea or constipation.

If the level of vitamin B12 stays low for a long time, it can damage your nerve cells. If this happens, you may have:

  • Numbness or tingling in your fingers and toes.
  • A poor sense of balance.
  • Depression.
  • Dementia, a loss of mental abilities.

How is vitamin B12 deficiency anemia diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine you and ask questions about your past health and how you are feeling now. You will also have blood tests to check the number of red blood cells and to see if your body has enough vitamin B12.

The level of folic acid, another B vitamin, will be checked too. Some people whose vitamin B12 levels are too low also have low levels of folic acid. The two problems can cause similar symptoms. But they are treated differently.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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