Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that our bodies need to work properly. It helps with nerve function, cell metabolism, and the creation of red blood cells and DNA. A deficiency means that your body isn’t getting enough vitamin B12 from your diet, or isn’t absorbing it fully. It’s one of the most prevalent vitamin deficiencies around the world.

This article has been verified by a medical professional

Impact of Vitamin B12 Deficiency on fertility

Vitamin B12 deficiency can make your blood clot (thicken) more quickly, which can lead to complications in early pregnancy and increase the risk of miscarriage. If you are vitamin B12 deficient over a long period of time, it can interfere with ovulation and alter the mucus membrane of your ovaries and fallopian tubes, which makes it harder for the egg to get fertilized by sperm or implant in the womb.

Potential causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Here’s what can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • Inadequate amount of vitamin B12 in your diet (vegetarian and vegan diets can lead to a deficiency)
  • Lack of intrinsic factor (a protein made in the stomach that helps absorb vitamin B12)
  • Gastritis or other digestive system disorders (Crohn’s disease and celiac disease)
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Worm infestation (pinworm, tapeworm, hookworm, etc.)
  • Certain medications (metformin, heartburn medication, and birth control pills)
  • High alcohol consumption
  • Stomach surgery (gastrectomy or weight loss surgery)

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a variety of symptoms, which may start slowly and worsen as the deficiency continues over time.

Here are the signs you are vitamin B12 deficient:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sore mouth or tongue
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Vision issues
  • Memory problems or difficulty thinking
  • Trouble walking
  • Depression
  • Irritability

Treatment to improve fertility

On the bright side, it’s easy to fix a vitamin B12 deficiency to improve your overall health and fertility. Depending on your levels of vitamin B12, you may be recommended to take a daily supplement or have regular injections. Vitamin B12 is also available as a nasal spray.

Animal products including meat, dairy, eggs, and fish are high in vitamin B12, which is why vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of developing a deficiency. If you follow a plant-based diet, look for breakfast cereals and nondairy milk fortified with vitamin B12 in addition to supplementation.

Drinking more than one alcoholic beverage per day can reduce your body’s absorption of vitamin B12. If you’re a frequent drinker, it’s a good idea to lower your alcohol consumption to help your vitamin B12 levels as well as your fertility.

Evidence shows that having a high level of vitamin B12 is associated with greater chances of a live birth following assisted reproduction treatment.

This article has been verified by a medical professional

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