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For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

March 2022 | Brian Chicoine, MD - Adult Down Syndrome Center

Vitamin B12 deficiency is an issue that we often check for in individuals who receive medical care at the Adult Down Syndrome Center. We usually get enough vitamin B12 from the foods we eat. Vitamin B12 is found in foods such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. However, some people do not get enough vitamin B12.

This deficiency is seen more frequently in: 

  • People who follow diets that do not have enough vitamin B12 (vegetarian and vegan diets are two examples)

  • People who have digestive disorders that make it difficult for their bodies to absorb vitamin B12 (such as celiac disease which is more common in people with Down syndrome). 

Some of the symptoms that can be caused by a lack of vitamin B12 include: 

  • Poor appetite

  • Anemia

  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

  • Difficulty with balance

A blood test can be done to check a person's vitamin B12 level. Some individuals with vitamin B12 deficiency may need to increase their intake through sources other than food such as over-the-counter supplements or prescription injections. 
Vitamin B12 deficiency can also contribute to depression. We typically recommend a blood test for B12 deficiency when a person with Down syndrome has symptoms of depression or other neurological or psychological changes.
More information about symptoms, health complications, and treatments can be found in this Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet opens in new window from the National Institutes of Health. 
Information about other vitamins can be found in this Vitamins and Supplements article in our Resource Library.

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We offer a variety of resources for people with Down syndrome, their families and caregivers and the professionals who care for and work with them. Search our collection of articles, webinars, videos, and other educational materials.

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Please note: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a medical, psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment plan by a qualified professional. We recommend you review the educational material with your health providers regarding the specifics of your health care needs.