Vegan Health

B12 Deficiency: Shocking Photos Reveal The Symptoms

The one question I get asked about more than any other concerns Vitamin B12 deficiency. People want to know if they should get B12 Shot or take a B12 supplement because they are vegan. The truth is that there is a simple way to know exactly what to do.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Vegans

If you are vegan you should get a blood test from your doctor every 3 months to see what your b12 levels look like. Since the body stores vitamin B12 many vegans can go a year or more without any loss in b12 levels. Others have a deficiency right away. The only way to know for sure is to get a blood test.

Sublingual B12 and B12 Vitamins

Sublingual B12 and B12 vitamins
flickr: Andreas Schoeps

If you do find out that you need to supplement for vitamin B12 you may choose B12 vitamins and supplements. These can come as capsules, pills or sublingual forms. There isn’t really much difference in the effectiveness between these options provided you make sure to get a high quality supplement.

You will basically see two kinds of B12 supplement; Cyanocobalamin and Methylcobalamin. What is the difference? Cyanocobalamin is basically synthetic and not found in nature anywhere. Methylcobalamin is a form more readily absorbed and used by the body and it’s organs like the liver, brain and nervous system.

Vitamin B12 Injections

b12 injection
flickr: Steven Depolo

Although you can get vitamin B12 injections prescribed and administer them at home, most people choose to get them at their doctors office. To take B12 injections correctly they must be injected into the muscle for proper absorption and this can be somewhat painful and tricky for most people to do on their own.

The advantage of getting the injections over taking a supplement is the effects are nearly instant and they last from one to three months. Most vegans I know visit their doctor every three months to get another b12 injection.

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms

b12 blood test
flickr: Nurse Paula

The health effects of not getting enough B12 can be serious and should not be taken lightly. While I recommend most people should see their doctor and get tested before taking a supplement, most people don’t. In this instance it is much better to just take the b12 supplement to be on the safe side.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, mood swings, depression, anxiety, loss of brain function, memory problems, neuropathy and worse. Most of those symptoms are not visible to the naked eye. But a lack of B12 can cause some devastating symptoms that can clearly be seen to the casual observer. These manifest themselves on the face, in the mouth and tongue.

If you want to know what B12 deficiency looks like we have photos for you. Warning: Do not go to the next page and look at these photos if you are squeamish. The symptoms are ugly and startling. See the photos on the next page below.

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