When memory loss is a sign you need more vitamin B12 (2022)

Watching footage of singer Suzie Mac performing live on stage, it’s easy to see why she was spotted by record scouts on the lookout for new stars. Just over a year ago, her youthful energy was electrifying.

However, fast-forward 14 months and Suzie sometimes struggles to walk even a few yards on crutches.

Even the slightest exertion can leave her bedbound for days, sleeping for up to ten hours at a time. Her limbs are constantly numb and weak, and her hair has fallen out in clumps.

Suzie Mac's B12 deficiency means that even the slightest exertion can leave the 25-year-old bedbound for days

Her memory is so poor she can hardly remember the words to her own songs.

Suzie, 25, from Truro, Cornwall, says: ‘My lowest moment was when the doctor asked me my parents’ names and I couldn’t recall them.’


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(Video) 8 Signs You May be Vitamin B12 Deficient.

But it is not a rare, tropical illness that’s had this effect. Her neurologists say it is vitamin B12 deficiency, a problem that experts believe thousands may have.

Vitamin B12 — found in red meat, fish, dairy products and fortified cereals — is important for brain and nervous system function, helps the body produce red blood cells, converts food into energy, and plays a role in regulating mood.

Suzie sometimes struggles to walk even a few yards on crutches

Suzie Mac’s B12 deficiency appears to have had a more unusual cause. Her health deteriorated dramatically following an extreme allergic reaction (known as anaphylaxis) to peanuts

Most people absorb it naturally without problem, but deficiency is not uncommon — particularly among older people.

‘Studies have shown at least 10 per cent of people aged 65 and over are deficient,’ explains David Smith, a professor emeritus of pharmacology at Oxford University and an expert on the condition.

‘As we get older, we don’t produce as much of the stomach acid and enzymes which break the B12 off the proteins in food, so we don’t absorb it as well.’

(Video) Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms | B12 Deficiency | Vitamin B12 - All You Need to Know

At least 20 per cent or more of vegans and vegetarians are deficient, he says.

And some people are unable to absorb the vitamin naturally in the intestine. These include patients with pernicious anaemia, an autoimmune condition where the body attacks cells in the stomach that produce a protein called intrinsic factor, which helps it absorb B12.

Conditions such as Crohn’s disease, where there is inflammation of the digestive system lining, can have a similar effect.

Patients taking acid reflux medication long-term can also become deficient, as it inhibits acid secretion in the stomach, which, in turn, limits the body’s ability to extract B12 from food.

Diagnosis typically involves a blood test to check levels of B12. Doctors can also look for enlarged, or ‘macrocytic’, red blood cells. The body needs B12 to help with cell division; without it, undivided cells will simply grow bigger.

The definition of deficiency is a reading below 148 pmol/L. But some experts maintain that thousands of patients with higher readings than this are still not getting enough.

Suzie said her lowest moment was when she couldn't remember her parents' names

‘The traditional cut-off values for deficiency are too low and deficiency is more common than generally thought,’ explains Professor Smith. ‘We have evidence that people suffer harm from levels up to 300pmol/L, yet they receive lab reports saying their levels are normal. That’s why it’s important to ask for your exact level if you’ve been tested.’

The signs of deficiency — which typically include tiredness, muscle weakness, disturbed vision and numbness or tingling — are insidious and slow to develop, he says, so ‘people often think they are just getting old’.

‘Or they may go to the GP and they sometimes are misdiagnosed with depression. This condition isn’t obvious like a heart attack or a stroke, it builds up slowly.’ But early treatment can make a big difference, says Professor Smith. ‘Memory loss is one of the key signs of advanced deficiency. If they are caught early enough, the neurological signs can improve after treatment.

‘We did a clinical trial in Oxford on people with memory problems. They had mild cognitive impairment, but had not been diagnosed with B12 deficiency, having not met the official cut-off.

(Video) 🧠 Memory Loss In 84% Of People Deficient In This ONE Vitamin

‘However, we gave them 500mcg of B12 every day for two years and almost halted the shrinkage of the brain and slowed the memory loss.’

Dr Rangan Chatterjee, a GP and presenter of the BBC series Doctor In The House, says GPs need more education to spot the symptoms: ‘Every week, I see patients whose test results are technically normal, yet who are still complaining of vague symptoms. One patient, aged 36, kept falling asleep with extreme fatigue and suffered night sweats, waking up with his sheets drenched.

‘When I put him on vitamin B12 supplements, he said it was like switching a light on.’

Dr Chatterjee says there is no harm for patients in trying supplements for four weeks as any excess is expelled through urine. ‘People can also help themselves by eating animal-derived food, particularly liver and liver pate (a good source of vitamin B), milk and fish, especially shell fish.’

Suzie Mac’s B12 deficiency appears to have had a more unusual cause. Her health deteriorated dramatically following an extreme allergic reaction (known as anaphylaxis) to peanuts. After a gig in February last year, she ate a spoonful of curry that contained nuts. Suzie’s mouth, tongue and throat immediately swelled. She vomited and collapsed, and had to be taken by ambulance to hospital, where she was kept overnight.

Suzie had shown initial improvement with the higher dose of B12, but deteriorated fast when the dose was dropped, and had to move in with her parents

‘After that I was drained of energy. Over the next few weeks I couldn’t keep awake,’ she says. ‘I had a terrible stabbing pain behind my eyes, and pins and needles in my arms and legs. My hair also began falling out.

‘In June, I went on a songwriting workshop in Spain. I couldn’t remember the lyrics or melody of songs I had just written. One night, I had severe cramp and fell to the floor. I lay there for hours, too weak to move.

‘On the flight home, my legs became numb and swollen and my mum raced me to hospital.’

Suzie was admitted for tests, including MRI scans (to rule out a brain tumour) and a lumbar puncture, where a needle is inserted into the spine to extract fluid. Tests revealed her vitamin B12 level was just 155.

Exactly why her allergic reaction led to this remains something of a mystery. There is no known link between anaphylactic shock and vitamin B12 deficiency, although Professor Smith insists more research is needed to rule one out.

(Video) ⚠️ Top 10 Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency That You MUST Know

‘It could just be a coincidence or it could be that pernicious anaemia is linked to severe allergy because both involve the immune system,’ he says.

Once diagnosed, Suzie was treated with hydroxocobalamin, an injectable form of B12, with eight 1 mg doses over three weeks (injections are given in more severe cases to ensure it is absorbed straight into the bloodstream). This was then dropped to one jab every three months, despite NHS guidelines which say those with neurological symptoms such as memory loss and depression should receive more frequent treatment.

Once diagnosed, Suzie was treated with hydroxocobalamin, an injectable form of B12, with eight 1 mg doses over three weeks (injections are given in more severe cases to ensure it is absorbed straight into the bloodstream)

Suzie had shown initial improvement with the higher dose of B12, but deteriorated fast when the dose was dropped, and had to move in with her parents.

‘Some people need the injections more than one every three months,’ says Professor Smith.

‘We need further research, because many GPs won’t increase the dose, and patients are forced to buy B12 over the internet in desperation, injecting themselves to relieve symptoms.’

To reduce the risk of deficiency Professor Smith says over-50s should take a 500 mcg vitamin B12 tablet daily with food. He is also pushing for vitamin B12 deficiency screening in memory clinics.

Meanwhile, Suzie is fundraising for treatment with Dr Stephen Dreskin, an allergy and immunology specialist at the University of Colorado in the U.S., who has researched a possible link between anaphylaxis and B12 deficiency.

‘I’m fighting to get my life back,’ she says.

crowdfunder.co.uk/suziemac musicandmeds/updates


Is forgetfulness a sign of B12 deficiency? ›

Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to impaired cognition and memory along with a sensation of tingling and numbness, an outcome of poor myelination.

Does vitamin B12 help with memory loss? ›

Though there is evidence to suggest that people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and dementia are often deficient in this vitamin, studies have found that taking supplements or increasing dietary vitamin B12 does not improve memory function in those living with the disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

How do I know if I need more B12? ›

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness. Heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Pale skin. A smooth tongue.

How much B12 should I take daily for memory? ›

There are no specific dosage recommendations for B12 supplements for mental performance or mood. Optimal dosing of vitamin B12 varies by age, lifestyle, and dietary needs. The general recommendation for adults is 2.4 mcg.

How do you feel if you are lacking in B12? ›

Symptoms of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency
  • extreme tiredness.
  • a lack of energy.
  • pins and needles (paraesthesia)
  • a sore and red tongue.
  • mouth ulcers.
  • muscle weakness.
  • disturbed vision.
  • psychological problems, which may include depression and confusion.

What causes sudden memory loss? ›

Concussion or head trauma. Not enough oxygen getting to the brain when your heart or breathing is stopped for too long. Severe brain infection or infection around brain. Major surgery or severe illness, including brain surgery.

What is the best vitamin for memory lost? ›

Certain vitamins and fatty acids have been said to slow or prevent memory loss. The long list of potential solutions includes vitamins like vitamin B12, herbal supplements such as ginkgo biloba, and omega-3 fatty acids.

What is the best vitamin for good memory? ›

Getting enough vitamin B12 may give you more energy, improve memory, and make learning new things easier. It also has been shown to help improve mood and lessen depressive symptoms.

Which vitamin is related to memory? ›

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, in particular, is important for memory. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause cognitive effects like confusion or poor memory, and even dementia in severe cases.

How can I check my vitamin B12 levels at home? ›

How do home B12 blood tests work?
  1. You order a test online or pick up a test kit from a store / clinic.
  2. It will likely contain a finger prick and corresponding vial to collect blood from your finger so that it can be tested for vitamin B12.

What is the most common cause of B12 deficiency? ›

Diet. Some people can develop a vitamin B12 deficiency as a result of not getting enough vitamin B12 from their diet. A diet that includes meat, fish and dairy products usually provides enough vitamin B12, but people who do not regularly eat these foods can become deficient.

Which fruit is rich in vitamin B12? ›

Fruits like apples, bananas, blueberries and oranges are some fruits that are high in vitamin B12.

What happens if to much B12 is too high? ›

In some people, high levels of B12 may cause gastrointestinal problems such as bloating and diarrhea. And if you have high blood pressure or poor cardiovascular health, having too much B12 may further complicate these issues. Pregnant and breastfeeding women may also need to be especially mindful of B12 levels.

How can I raise my B12 levels fast? ›

How to raise your B12 levels fast. The most common way to treat B12 deficiencies is by adjusting your diet. If this is unsuccessful, vitamin supplements may be recommended. If you're looking to boost the amount of vitamin B12 in your diet, you should eat more animal products, like meat, seafood, dairy and eggs.

What food is highest in B12? ›

Good sources of vitamin B12
  • meat.
  • fish.
  • milk.
  • cheese.
  • eggs.
  • some fortified breakfast cereals.

What happens if your B12 is low for too long? ›

If your anemia goes untreated for a long time, it can lead to heart failure. That's because your heart has to work harder. B12-related anemia may also raise the chances you'll have a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular problem.

What happens when vitamin B12 is too low? ›

People with vitamin B12 deficiency can have neurological symptoms and/or damage without anemia (lack of red blood cells). General physical symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can include: Feeling very tired or weak. Experiencing nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

How long does it take for B12 to work? ›

It may take a few weeks before your vitamin B12 levels and symptoms (such as extreme tiredness or lack of energy) start to improve. If you have hydroxocobalamin injections to boost your vitamin B12 levels at the start of treatment, the cyanocobalamin tablets may start to work within a few days.

What is the most common cause of memory loss? ›

Possible culprits include: antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and pain medications given after surgery. Alcohol, tobacco, or drug use. Excessive alcohol use has long been recognized as a cause of memory loss.

What are the first signs of memory loss? ›

Common early symptoms of dementia
  • memory loss.
  • difficulty concentrating.
  • finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping.
  • struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word.
  • being confused about time and place.
  • mood changes.

Why do I forget words when talking? ›

Aphasia is a communication disorder that makes it hard to use words. It can affect your speech, writing, and ability to understand language. Aphasia results from damage or injury to language parts of the brain. It's more common in older adults, particularly those who have had a stroke.

What can I take to restore memory? ›

Here are the 10 best nootropic supplements to boost your brain function.
  • Fish Oils. Fish oil supplements are a rich source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two types of omega-3 fatty acids. ...
  • Resveratrol. ...
  • Creatine. ...
  • Caffeine. ...
  • Phosphatidylserine. ...
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine. ...
  • Ginkgo Biloba. ...
  • Bacopa Monnieri.
26 Mar 2018

How can I fix my memory loss naturally? ›

  1. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Physical activity increases blood flow to your whole body, including your brain. ...
  2. Stay mentally active. ...
  3. Socialize regularly. ...
  4. Get organized. ...
  5. Sleep well. ...
  6. Eat a healthy diet. ...
  7. Manage chronic conditions.

What improves memory the most? ›

Proven ways to protect memory include following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar in check. Living a mentally active life is important, too. Just as muscles grow stronger with use, mental exercise helps keep mental skills and memory in tone.

What are the 3 foods that fight memory loss? ›

What are the foods that fight memory loss? Berries, fish, and leafy green vegetables are 3 of the best foods that fight memory loss. There's a mountain of evidence showing they support and protect brain health.

How can I clear my brain fog? ›

Treatment – ways to end brain fog
  1. Spend less time on computer and mobile phone – remind yourself to take a break.
  2. Positive thinking, reduce stress.
  3. Change your diet.
  4. Get enough sleep – 7-8 hours a day, go to bed at 10pm or no later than midnight.
  5. Regular exercise.
  6. Avoid alcohol, smoking, and drinking coffee in the afternoon.

Which vitamin B is good for brain and memory? ›

Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine or vitamin B6 influences brain process and development by helping with the development of neurotransmitters. In some cases memory loss and ADHD can be improved through increased intake of vitamin B6 rich foods or supplementation (under a physician's direct supervision).

Can I take B12 without doctor? ›

Supplements are easily available over the counter either in combination with B-complex supplements or alone in the form of cyanocobalamin. However, it is not recommended to consume vitamin B12 supplements without consulting a doctor as they can interfere with some other medicines.

How do you feel when your B12 is high? ›

You might get frequent headaches if your vitamin B12 levels are too high. Elevated levels of this vitamin can also cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. You may feel tired and weak. High amounts of vitamin B12 can also cause you to feel like your hands and feet are tingling.

What vitamins should you not take at night? ›

6 supplements you should not take at night!
  • Vitamins B.
  • Multivitamins and energy herbs.
  • Vitamin D.
  • Calcium.
  • Vitamin C.
  • Zinc.
11 Dec 2020

How long does it take to recover from B12 deficiency? ›

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Vitamin B12 Deficiency? Recovery from vitamin B12 deficiency takes time. You may not have any improvement during the first few months of treatment. Improvement may be gradual and may continue for up to six to 12 months.

Do Almonds contain B12? ›

Nuts are a great source of plant-based protein, fibre, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, which all help to boost the intake of essential nutrients in any diet – plant-based or animal-based. While they are not high in B12, they contain a whole spectrum of nutrients that help to optimise overall health and well-being.

What vegetables can I eat to get vitamin B12? ›

Vegetables– Usually, most vegetables contain some amount of Vitamin B12, but there are some Vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians that contain a very high amount of Vitamin B12 namely- Spinach, Beetroot, Potatoes, Mushrooms, alfalfa, and others.

Which plant has the most B12? ›

Foods often touted to be rich in vitamin B12 include unwashed organic produce, mushrooms grown in B12-rich soils, nori, spirulina, chlorella, and nutritional yeast. Some believe vegans who eat enough of the right plant foods don't need to worry about vitamin B12 deficiency.

Is it OK to take 1000 mcg B12 daily? ›

Even the lowest doses in B12 supplements are many times the recommended dietary allowance. Doses up to 1,000 mcg, though unnecessary, aren't harmful.

Should I take B12 or B complex? ›

When it comes to the issue of vitamin B12 vs B complex, both types of vitamins are crucial. If you're lacking B12, consume more of it via supplements or food. If you're lacking vitamin B in general, consider B complex vitamins instead. Overall, both vitamins are essential nutrients.

How much B12 should an older woman take? ›

Recommended Vitamin B12 Dosage for Seniors

A recent study found that for seniors, a daily dose of 500 micrograms was efficient in reversing the signs of B12 deficiency. In general, experts recommend 2.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day for people over the age of 14.

What medications should not be taken with B12? ›

As summarized in the table provided, vitamin B12 (cobalamin) absorption and utilization by the body can be compromised with the chronic use of certain medications which include: colchicine, chloramphenicol, ethanol, histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2RA), metformin, and proton pump inhibitors (PPI).

What foods should I avoid for B12 deficiency? ›

There are certain foods that also need a cut-down in case of vitamin B12 deficiency. “Some foods and drinks can interfere with vitamin B complex intake like alcohol, caffeine and processed foods, etc should be avoided completely,” Shah added.

What protein has the most B12? ›

Salmon. Many people who try to eat healthier include salmon in their diets. It has a ton of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, as well as B vitamins. Just half of a cooked salmon fillet (6 ounces) contains more than 200% of the daily value for vitamin B12.

What is the best meat for B12? ›

Liver, particularly beef liver, is one of the most nutritious meats you can eat. It's a great source of high-quality protein; vitamins A, B12, B6; folic acid; iron; zinc; and essential amino acids.

What helps B12 absorption? ›

Vitamin B12 binds to the protein in the foods we eat. In the stomach, hydrochloric acid and enzymes unbind vitamin B12 into its free form. From there, vitamin B12 combines with a protein called intrinsic factor so that it can be absorbed further down in the small intestine.

Is memory loss due to B12 deficiency reversible? ›

A diagnosis is B12 deficiency may be a reversible cause of confusion and behavior changes. In other words, it's possible that increasing your B12 level can improve or restore your memory and ability to think clearly. It can also resolve the other symptoms you may be experiencing such as fatigue and weakness.

Does low vitamin D cause forgetfulness? ›

Vitamin D deficiency, or even just less-than-optimal levels of the sunshine vitamin, can spell trouble for your memory and moods.

What vitamin should you take for memory loss? ›

Certain vitamins and fatty acids have been said to slow or prevent memory loss. The long list of potential solutions includes vitamins like vitamin B12, herbal supplements such as ginkgo biloba, and omega-3 fatty acids.

What vitamins help restore memory? ›

Like vitamin D, vitamin B12 has so many mental benefits. Getting enough vitamin B12 may give you more energy, improve memory, and make learning new things easier. It also has been shown to help improve mood and lessen depressive symptoms.

How long does it take to restore B12 levels? ›

How long does it take to recover from B12 deficiency? Once you begin treating your vitamin B12 deficiency, it can take up to six to 12 months to fully recover. It is also common to not experience any improvement during the first few months of treatment.

What is short-term memory loss a symptom of? ›

Short-term memory loss is when you forget things that have happened recently, such as an event or something you did, saw, or heard. It can be caused by a number of factors, including a nutritional deficiency, sleep deprivation, depression, side effects of some medications, or dementia.

What causes memory loss and forgetfulness? ›

Memory and other thinking problems have many possible causes, including depression, an infection, or medication side effects. Sometimes, the problem can be treated, and cognition improves. Other times, the problem is a brain disorder, such as Alzheimer's disease, which cannot be reversed.

How do you compensate short-term memory loss? ›

Making appointments and the same time, writing yourself reminders, and keeping a calendar are great compensation techniques for decreased short-term memory and can help decrease the effects of these symptoms on daily life.


1. Woman Believed She Was Going to Die Due to B12 Deficiency Symptoms | This Morning
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2. 11 Signs You Have Vitamin B12 Deficiency
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3. Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms and Treatment | Cure Anemia | Ataxia | Memory loss and Confusion
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4. Vitamin B12: What You Need To Know | You're Health Depends On It!
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5. 5 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency YOU NEED To Know
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