Vitamin B12 deficiency: Stomach bloating could be a sign your levels are too low

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Vitamin B12 performs a number of pivotal roles in the body and these roles are responsible for both physical and mental processes. Take its role in supporting the nervous system. The nervous system transmits signals between the brain and the rest of the body, including internal organs. Having your stomach become more bloated could be an indication your B12 levels are too low.

It may come as a surprise that a deficiency of vitamin B12 in a person’s diet can lead to digestive tract issues such as bloating and gas, according to medical website LiveStrong.

It can also cause a range of other issues related to the digestive tract such as nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting, heartburn, constipation or diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

Fortunately, it’s possible to top up B12 through foods, supplements and prescribed injections, which may help alleviate the gas and bloating that a lack of B12 can cause.

According to the NHS, Good sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Meat
  • Salmon and cod
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Eggs

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH), symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can involve the digestive tract, such as abdominal bloating.

It explains: “These symptoms include nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting, heartburn, abdominal bloating and gas, constipation or diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. An enlarged liver is another symptom.”

Bloating is very common and often occurs after eating certain foods, swallowing too much air or food intolerances.


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NIH explains some other signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency to look out for.

It advises: “Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to nerve damage. This can cause tingling and numbness in your hands and feet, muscle weakness, and loss of reflexes.

“You also may feel unsteady, lose your balance, and have trouble walking.

“Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause weakened bones and may lead to hip fractures.

“Severe vitamin B12 deficiency can cause neurological problems, such as confusion, dementia, depression, and memory loss.”

Other symptoms include feeling very tired, breathlessness even after little exercise, heart palpitations, headaches, and a reduced appetite.

The causes of vitamin B12 deficiency include diet. A person who doesn’t eat enough vitamin B12-rich foods can be at risk of a deficiency in this vitamin.

The body doesn’t make vitamin B12 but the best way to get it is from a balanced diet.

Why do some people become deficient in B12?

There are many reasons why someone may not get enough B12 but the two most common are diet and pernicious anaemia.

Pernicious anaemia is the leading cause of B12 deficiency in the UK, according to the NHS.

It is an autoimmune disease that prevents the body from making intrinsic factor (a protein made by the stomach and needed to absorb vitamin B12 in the intestine).

The popularity of vegan and vegetarian diets may account for the majority dietary-related causes.

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods and is added to some fortified foods.

According to the NIH, plant foods have no vitamin B12 unless they are fortified.

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