Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause dozens of health problems.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can make your tongue swell, turn your skin yellow, make you incontinent and interfere with your sense of taste and smell. It can cause joint pain and give you pins and needles. It can cause depression, paranoia and make you hallucinate.
Too little B12 is linked to anemia, robbing your cells of oxygen and making you tired. And it can also dramatically increase your risk of heart disease.
An estimated 32% of adults over 50 have severely low B12 levels and perhaps 20% are borderline for this problem. While it can hit anyone, strict vegetarians and seniors are particularly at risk. 
But here’s the real shocker… if you’re not getting enough of this precious nutrient, your brain could be shrinking. Literally.
Vitamin B12 is a powerful brain nutrient. Low B12 levels have been linked to brain health issues ranging from synapse xt Alzheimer’s to ADHD.  Too little B12 is linked to smaller brain size.
Unfortunately, B12 deficiency is often overlooked. While B12 deficiency can come on quickly and dramatically, often it sneaks up on people as the body uses up vitamin B12 stores in the liver and has a harder time recycling it from your bile. For this reason, the Centers for Disease control created a special campaign encouraging doctors to look for B12 deficiency in their patients.
Why is B12 deficiency such a problem? B12 can be a hard nutrient to get enough of…
Why Seniors And Vegans Are Particularly At Risk
If you’re vegan you can’t find the active form you need in most plant sources. Vitamin B12 is almost exclusively found in animal products – meat, eggs, fish and dairy.
Be warned, you may hear certain plant-sourced foods can give you B12. However, these claims are usually misleading since the method of measuring B12 levels does not distinguish between different forms of the vitamin. There are several different forms of B12. And our bodies can only use one kind.
Vegans who have thought they could rely on fermented foods like tempeh or spirulina may not be getting the form of B12 their body can use. Fermented foods have scant amounts. Even worse, the B12 found in spirulina has been found to block active B12 absorption, speeding up the development of B12 deficiency.
But it’s not only vegans who risk B12 deficiency…
- B12 absorption in the small intestine requires a special protein produced by the stomach called intrinsic factor. Our stomach produces less of this special protein as we get older. For this reasons seniors are particularly at risk for low vitamin B12 levels.
- If you take antacids, you also may be losing out. Your body needs acid to absorb B12.
- Finally, if intestinal problems like celiac or Crohn’s disease make it hard for you to absorb food, you may also be having a hard time absorbing B12 no matter how much you take in.