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Vitamin B12 Deficiency: A True Story

August 29, 2012
No Diet 4 Me
Do you believe that vitamin deficiencies are no big deal? Let me tell you a true story about one young mother's experience.

About three years ago, this young woman in her late 20's began losing her sight. A divorced mom with three kids, this was bad enough, but she also began to lose feeling in some extremities, notably her feet, had troble maintaining her balance, became sluggish mentally, and began experiencing skin rashes and irritations. At some points, skin on her fingers appeared to be dying and peeling off. She had to wear bandages on her fingers, both to protect the sensitive areas and to keep herself from picking at them.

To find out what was causing her loss of vision, which eventually reached the point where she was declared legally blind, she visited specialist after specialist. Her eyes were checked by several experts. She was sent to neurologists in hopes that it might be attributed to some problem of the nervous system. She was even referred to a psychiatrist on the suspicion that her condition was "mental".

Eventually, after over two years of bouncing from doctor to doctor, she went to a hematologist, a doctor who specializes in blood-related illnesses. After drawing the umpteenth vials of blood and testing it, he uncovered a very serious Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Now, over the previous years, this young woman had bariatric surgery, for weight loss. As a result of this, not only was she unable to eat a wide range of foods, but her body was severely hampered in its ability to extract nutrients from the food she ate. What she did eat was pretty much what the typical American eats...including fast food, which is not known for its high-nutrient content in the first place!

The hemotologist has started her on vitamin B12 shots, and she takes a sublingual B12 daily now. The skin rashes are clearing up, but the doctor has told her she may never feel her feet again and the blindness is almost certainly permanent now.

I have written often about the value of vitamin B12 and just so happen to have a lot of information about the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency.

In most cases, as in this young lady's, symptoms appear gradually, often taking a year to appear...sometimes longer.

She began with leg pains, tiredness, and mental "fuzziness" long before the eyesight started going. At first, when she began to lose her sight, there would be days when she thought it was returning to normal. Then, a day or two later, her sight would begin to fade and, over time, get worse.

Anemia is another symptom of a deficiency of this vitamin, but she was already prone to this and doctors tended to recommend iron supplements.

This young woman had enough bad things happening to her, but it could have been worse...especially if the problem had not been uncovered in time.

Lack of this important nutrient, in addition to causing difficulties with the mental processes and creating a pervasive fatigue, can cause a loss of appetite, poor circulation, a yellowing of the skin and diarrhea.

In its worst stages, a vitamin B12 deficienty can even cause brain damage and heart disease.

Many of us, including this young lady, tend to put "nutrition" on the back burner. We tend to believe that if we are getting "enough" food, we are getting enough nutrients.

As we can see from this story, this is not always the case.

Admittedly, her experiences are extreme, both in the causes and the outcomes, but they point up what "can" happen to an ordinary individual when the realities of the value of proper nutrition are overlooked or minimized.

Is it possible the poor driver ahead of you, or worse, beside you, is experiencing a vitamin B12 deficiency? Are you at risk yourself because of the dietary choices you make?

Is your grandmother experiencing the life-diminishing effects of osteoporosis because of a deficiency in vitamin D, calcium, or magnesium...or is it you, and not your grandmother.

Are you experiencing poor eyesight, dry eyes, or skin problems due to a lack of vitamin A...or are you not taking it with fat?

Oh, I thought fat was bad for you.

No, not always, but that's another discussion.

Bottom line is that many of us, like the young lady in this story about a vitamin B12 deficiency, tend to take many aspects of life for granted. If we can get up out of the chair and make it to the bathroom, or the car, we don't need to exercise. If we eat plenty of food we are getting enough of the right nutrients.

I hope that because of this article, you will take a second look at your life and see, literally and figureatively, where you can make it a little better. It may mean a lot to you and the people around you.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to take MY daily multivitamin and pick up my step-daughter to take her and the baby to the pediatrician. She cannot drive, you know, what with being legally blind and all that. 


Donovan Baldwin is a 67 year old fitness fan and freelance writer. A University of West Florida alumnus (BA Accounting 1973), he is retired from the U.S. Army after 21 years of service. He blogs regularly on issues related to senior health and fitness. You can read his blog at
3,060 - 6 - 0 - US

Donovan Baldwin is a freelance writer currently living in the Dallas - Fort Worth area. He is a University Of West Florida alumnus (1973) with a BA in accounting. He is a past member of Mensa and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and has held several managerial positions while in the military and in civilian life. After retiring from the U. S. Army in 1995, he became interested in Internet marketing and developed various online businesses. He has been writing poetry, articles, and essays for over 40 years, and now frequently publishes articles on his own websites and for use by other webmasters. He has a website on health, fitness, diet, and weight loss at .

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