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12 Subtle Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency: If You Are Stressed You May Have All 12

In modern life, we are always under stress – a busy schedule while always having to be online and available at all times, juggling children, a partner, and a job – and then if a crisis arises, it can quickly become too much. 

Are you always tired? Going into rooms for something, only to discover you've completely forgotten the reason? 

Feel like you’ve had a flat, low mood for as long as you can remember?

Feeling more than a bit down in the dumps without being quite sure why? 

You may dismiss these all-too-common concerns as the inevitable results of stress, lack of sleep or growing older, particularly if you're peri-menopausal. 

But could there be another explanation?

Stress is exhausting. Both physically and emotionally. We find ourselves wondering is it time to take some time off to recharge? Yes, quite possibly but also consider looking into nutrient deficiencies.

Could your feelings be down to a vitamin B12 deficiency?

The mental symptoms of too little vitamin B12 creep up on us and therefore get ignored by many people. You adjust and think that it’s just how you are now. It’s just because I’m getting older.

You are sometimes confused, find more difficult to recall things, are in a bad mood, or a low mood, and tend to be more nervous than you used to be.

Read on to find out how vitamin B12 helps to protect your nerves by supporting the normal function of the nervous system.

Those who have to deal with chronically stressful situations or are in a serious crisis need more vitamin B12 than usual. 

These situations can be high mental or physical stress such as important deadlines, relationship break ups, exams. Life situations that stress us and weigh down on our mind and soul can trigger strong, long-lasting negative emotions too like parenting, caring, abusive relationships, bullying, money worries, grief, loss, change, and difficulties at work.

It’s not uncommon for B12 levels to be low in people who are feeling stressed.

Some experts suggest that up to 40% of us could have critically low levels of B12. 

There are reasons why we use up more vitamin B12 in stressful situations: 

  • the absorption like vitamin B12 is affected because when we are stressed we divert energy away from our digestive organs and the composition of our stomach acid changes adversely. 
  • vitamin B12 is used up for producing neurotransmitters and hormones that we produce when we have constantly circling thoughts and strong feelings. The production of hormones like serotonin, adrenalin, and noradrenalin, in particular, significantly increases vitamin B12 consumption by our bodies.

So not only are we not producing as much as normal but we are using up really quickly too. We become depleted and it leads to glitches in our brain and nervous system. 

It's relatively straightforward to treat but, left unchecked, may result in low mood, anxiety, and cognitive issues.

Read on to find out whether you could be deficient, and what to do about it...

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 affects the functioning of every cell in the human body. If we can't absorb enough, we can't produce healthy red blood cells or maintain a healthy nervous system. 

B12 works in synergy with vitamin B9 (commonly known as folic acid). This means that a deficiency in either nutrient can cause problems.

Vitamin B12 is crucial for the release of energy, for the production of neurotransmitters and for the normal function of the brain and the nervous system. It is also involved in the formation of red blood cells and helps to create and regulate DNA.

Vitamin B12 is vital to our brains and nervous system. Like electrical cords, our nerve pathways are coated by protective covers. Very similarly to cable insulation, the myelin sheath makes sure that messages flow down our nerves. 

If there we don’t have enough vitamin B12, we cannot make this protective coating of our nerves meaning that they become exposed. This leads to transmission failures - the nerves can’t send or retrieve information and they can die off.

The metabolism of every cell in your body depends on vitamin B12.

Since vitamin B12 is also responsible for producing hormones and neurotransmitters, essential for keeping our brain and mental health balanced and fully functioning.

An insufficient supply can lead memory problems, poor concentration, depressive moods and a reduced ability to cope with stress.

Vitamin B – above all vitamin B12 – is food for our nerves. It’s vital for them to function normally and for stressed nerves to regenerate.

Unfortunately, so many people remain unaware of this deficiency because the signs are often so subtle.

12 Subtle Signs Your Body Lacks B12

There are actually12 subtle symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency. 

How many of them have you noticed?

  • Exhaustion, fatigue and feeling tired no matter how much sleep you get
  • Constant low mood
  • Muscle weakness
  • Brain fog and forgetfulness
  • Irritability, uncontrollable mood swings, and feeling like you’re low and flat
  • Feeling cold or lightheaded
  • Pins and needles or tingling in your fingers and toes
  • Dull, brittle hair, and weak nails that crack easily
  • Red sore tongue and mouth ulcers
  • Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and rapid heartbeat
    1. Diarrhoea or constipation
    2. Nausea, poor appetite


So why am I deficient in B12?


There are several reasons why we use up more vitamin B12 in stressful situations. 

On the one hand, the absorption and is affected because our body supplies less to our digestive organs and the composition of our stomach acid changes adversely. 

On the other hand, a lot of vitamin B12 is used up for producing neurotransmitters and hormones due to the constantly circling thoughts and strong feelings.

The production of hormones like serotonin, adrenalin, and noradrenalin, in particular, significantly increases vitamin B12 consumption. 

The unusually high consumption of vitamin B12 can lead to an insufficient supply of it – and a vicious cycle starts.

Vegan or Vegetarian

It is especially important for vegans and vegetarians as the main source of B12 in food is in meat.

Good sources of vitamin B12

  • meat
  • fish
  • milk
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • some fortified breakfast cereals
  • Vegetables especially spinach, beetroot, potatoes, mushrooms, alfalfa
  • Yeast extract
  • Tofu 

Low stomach acid

Simply getting older can also increase your risk of becoming B12 deficient, as our production of stomach acid decreases. 

Good levels of stomach acid are necessary for effective B12 absorption.

Genetic glitches

All humans have a gene called the MTHFR gene which is responsible for converting some vitamins into their usable state by the body.

It is estimated that 60% of the U.S. and 40% of Australian and British people population have a mutation to this gene.

For all individuals who have the gene abnormality, the absorption of B-complex vitamins is either largely inefficient or lacking altogether. 

So those vitamins remain mostly unabsorbed, and can simply build up to the point of toxicity. 

Unable to absorb vitamins

Methylated vitamins are the active versions of vitamins which your body can readily make use of, while un-methylated vitamins must go through a conversion process before your body can actually use them.

The problem is that many people are unable to make that conversion in their bodies because they have a genetic mutation that prevents it.

Taking methylated B vitamins means that you can absorb them in a body ready form. 

Sometimes this is the key that unlocks the optimal functioning of our brains and bodies.


Different types of B12

The form of vitamin B12 you need to look for:


The form of vitamin B9 you need to look for:

Folate Acid or Folic acid L-5 MTHF

Unfortunately, so many people remain unaware of this deficiency because the signs are often so subtle.

How Vital Is B12 To Your Health? 

B12 is essential for maximum energy, proper nerve development, balanced brain chemistry, and even good digestion and a healthy heart.

In fact, your body craves B12 to keep your nerves and cells healthy.

It replenishes and revitalises the entire body... it energises you naturally.

Simply put: B12 plays a fundamental role in your health and happiness, and you should not overlook it – ever.

Because without enough? Life can be pretty miserable.

It’s especially rough if you’re living a high-stress lifestyle.

That’s because stress and going non-stop can cause rapid depletion of your B12.

The Bottom Line On B12...

The benefits of B12 are numerous. From a surge in your energy levels to brighter, clearer thinking to happier, more even mood.

Healthy levels of B12 mean a healthier, more balanced you.

Yet, it’s highly likely that right now you are grossly deficient in this crucial vitamin (and may not even know it).

And, even if you are supplementing, your body is most likely failing to absorb and put those delicate nutrients to good use.

Fortunately, the solution is easy.

Take some high-quality (methylated) B12 every single day and just watch your health, your energy, and your entire life will become supercharged.

M+E have loads of methylated B12 in them. Enough to boost your levels even if you are depleted and very deficient.


High levels of B vitamins

Yes the levels are high. This is to quickly reboot and correct levels in people with deficiencies. The fact that all the B vitamins are in their methylated form (eg folate rather folic acid) they are far less likely to form any toxic build up. Methylation is key to bioavailability. Especially if you have a glitch on your MTHFR gene.

B vitamins are water soluble so any excess is usually excreted - which means that they need to be regularly taken. Your brain works best with a continuous supply of about 40 nutrients and B vitamins are especially important. The RDA limits are set very low and many studies (see below) have shown that significantly higher levels are more beneficial.

Here's to B12 - who knew how much one vitamin could change your health?

Take care,


Here is an independent review of B vitamins including dosages towards the end of the article:


"As B vitamins are water-soluble, any excess is generally excreted in urine. On the one hand, this means they are typically safe at doses much higher than the RDA, but on the other hand, they require a more consistent consumption than the fat soluble vitamins. In terms of safety, only three of the eight B-vitamins have been ascribed any upper limit for daily consumption, with the remainder considered safe at any dose.

A very sizeable proportion of the populations of developed countries are suffering deficiency or marginal deficiency in one or more B vitamins. Just as the minimum daily requirement of many micronutrients is simply unknown at present, the optimal level has received no attention at all. As one review paper notes, even the governmental agencies responsible for defining dietary recommendations acknowledge that the benefits of micronutrient consumption may continue on a continuum well above the RDA. Clearly, common sense dictates that the optimal level of consumption of any nutrient will not merely be the level that prevents diseases related to a deficiency, or even marginal deficiency, in that nutrient. 

In general, epidemiological evidence suggests that the benefits of B vitamins extend well beyond the accepted biochemical cut-offs for deficiency or marginal deficiency and that consuming the RDA for some B vitamins would still leave large proportions of the population at risk of insufficiency. Indeed, there would seem to be little evidence for supplementing with the bare minimum requirement (RDA) given the dose-response to B vitamins in terms of bioavailability and physiological benefits."

As seen in