- A woman who suffered from extreme fatigue had “dangerously low” vitamin B12 levels due to a plant-based diet.
- Carly Minsky, 33, said she could “barely walk” after not eating meat or fish for six years.
- Vitamin B12, a nutrient found primarily in animal products, is vital for healthy nerves and blood cells.
A woman suffered from extreme fatigue for years before a blood test revealed she had “dangerously low” levels of vitamin B12, which can go unnoticed or possibly cause a range of symptoms from difficulty walking to numb limbs.
Carly Minsky, 33, told the UK’s Daily Mail that she stopped eating meat and fish in her mid-twenties to try to be healthier and that at first she felt good. But after a year she felt “extreme” fatigue, and after six years she was so exhausted she could “barely walk”.
According to the British Dietetic Association, vegans and those who haven’t eaten eggs, dairy and meat for more than five years, like Minsky, are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is essential for nerves and red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. Vitamin deficiency usually has two causes: malabsorption, due to conditions such as celiac disease and pernicious anemia, or because a person does not eat enough. It is found naturally in meat, eggs and dairy products.
Symptoms may include heart palpitations or loss of balance
Minsky initially thought her fatigue was due to a problem with her thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland that can cause fatigue if it doesn’t produce enough hormones.
However, blood tests carried out by her family doctor in 2020 revealed that her vitamin B12 levels were “at the dangerously low end of the scale” and that she needed “immediate B12 injections”.
They also said she would need to take vitamin B12 daily for the rest of her life.
Al dur Minsky was still consuming cheese, eggs and milk, she was told that she was not getting enough vitamin B12 in her diet.
“It was a huge shock. I had no idea I was going to get so sick,” she said.
Dr. Brad Kamitaki, assistant professor of neurology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, previously told Insider that vitamin B12 deficiency “may be undiagnosed or underdiagnosed because symptoms may be nonspecific.”
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, symptoms vary and include: tingling in the arms or legs, difficulty walking, fatigue, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and irritability.
A cup of 2% fat cow’s milk contains half of all the vitamin B12 you need for the day
Most people in the United States eat enough of this nutrient, according to data from the National Institutes of Health.
Priya Tew, registered dietitian and founder of Dietitian UK, previously told Insider that most people don’t need to count or track their daily vitamin B12 intake, especially if they eat mostly animal products. time.
The NIH recommends that the average American adult consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day. For example, one cup of 2% fat cow’s milk contains half of all the vitamin B12 you need for the day, and three ounces of cooked salmon or pan-fried beef contains all of it. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding need 2.6 micrograms and 2.8 micrograms respectively, it says.
Those who don’t eat animal products can get vitamin B12 from fortified plant-based milk, breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast flakes, and marmite.
The BDA recommends that long-time vegetarians and vegans check their vitamin B12 status and take supplements of around 10 micrograms daily as needed.
Minsky felt better after 2 months of vitamin B12 injections
Within two months of the vitamin B12 injections, Carly felt better. “It was like my energy had been restored,” she said.
She continues to take vitamin B12 tablets daily.
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