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Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Women

By Rae Uddin

Each day, women should consume at least 2.4 mcg of vitamin B-12 to maintain proper brain function and red blood cell production. Pregnant or lactating women should consume even more of this water-soluble nutrient -- 2.6 and 2.8 mcg, respectively -- on a daily basis. Vitamin B-12 comes from meat, eggs, dairy and fortified grains. If you're not getting enough vitamin B-12 in your diet or from your multivitamin, you may be at risk of developing vitamin B-12 deficiency. Seek additional care from your doctor if you develop any of the symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency in women.

Stomach Discomfort and Infrequent Bowel Movements

If you have low vitamin B-12 levels, you may experience persistent stomach discomfort such as nausea or a diminished appetite. Infrequent or difficult bowel movements, also called constipation, may occur and may result in abdominal pain or cramping. Consult your medical provider if you experience recurrent bouts of constipation. Left untreated, constipation may result in medical complications such as bowel impaction.

Numbness or Tingling

Without sufficient stores of vitamin B-12, your body's central nervous system can't function normally and may become damaged. Consequently, you may experience unusual sensations of numbness or tingling in your extremities, the Office of Dietary Supplements warns. You may also notice that your skin appears unusually pale. If unusual body sensations prevent you from using your hands or feet normally, contact your doctor immediately for further evaluation and care.

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Fatigue or Weakness

Poor red blood cell production caused by low vitamin B-12 levels limits the amount of oxygen your organs, tissues and cells receive. Without adequate oxygen supplies, your cells can't produce the energy your body needs, which may cause symptoms of fatigue or weakness. Excessive fatigue may make it hard for you to concentrate or remain active during your normal daily routines.

Mood or Mental Changes

A vitamin B-12 deficiency may also decrease the amount of oxygen available for the neurons in your brain. Poor brain levels of oxygen negatively affect the rate at which your neurons can transmit signals through your body. As a result, you may develop unusual mood or mental changes such as dizziness, difficulty concentrating, confusion, depression or memory loss, as symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency. If you notice sudden or severe changes in your mood or mental clarity, seek prompt care from your medical provider. These symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency may also be signs of other medical problems such as an aneurysm or mental health issue.

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