The Dangers B12 Deficiency Poses For Athletes

B12 Deficiency

In a current tweet, a runner posted that she is having problem sleeping at night time. Her foot is experiencing twitches and tingling sensations. One of her massive toes is numb and cramping. She is describing the signs I skilled for over a yr earlier than I used to be recognized with myelopathy of the spinal twine because of extreme B12 deficiency. This runner’s tweet (in addition to the emails and messages I obtain by way of my web site and Facebook web page from as distant as Nepal, India and Lebanon to as near as Canada and the United States from runners who’ve reached out to me after studying my B12 deficiency story to share their comparable signs) compels me to teach fellow runners and athletes about B12 deficiency–the signs, causes, remedies and the intense penalties of untreated B12 deficiency.


B12 is important within the manufacturing of healthy purple blood cells and bone marrow. Our our bodies require B12 to maintain a healthy mind and nervous system. B12 helps to supply the myelin sheath round our nerves. Pernicious anemia, immune system issues, heavy consuming and Celiac illness are some widespread causes of B12 deficiency.


It’s not unusual to affiliate B12 deficiency with a vegetarian weight loss plan. I’m not a vegetarian. Before I used to be recognized, my B12 deficiency signs included numbness, twitching, tingling and painful spasms and cramps affecting my arms, legs and toes. My proper foot started to twitch and cramp. My proper toe turned numb. It would painfully curl backwards in my sleep. Excruciatingly painful spasms in my proper calf additionally woke me up in the midst of the night time. The burning and numbing sensation in each ft and toes made sporting footwear uncomfortable. My fingers painfully locked, fanned out and have become stiff anytime, anyplace. These signs started to have an effect on my gait, strolling and operating. I couldn’t stroll usually. I couldn’t push by way of my training runs. My legs skilled muscle weak spot, tingling and electrical shock-like sensations. I had problem climbing stairs. I felt in need of breath. I might not run distances within the time I used to be accustomed. I came upon that my physique doesn’t take in sufficient B12 from the meals I eat. Without sufficient B12, I developed the above neurologic signs, although there are other symptoms in addition to these listed above.


Untreated B12 deficiency can result in critical health penalties, together with paralysis, dementia and psychosis. For some, a day by day oral B12 complement is adequate remedy. Some would require B12 injections. Whatever your signs, see a physician earlier than in search of remedy. Explain your signs to your physician and ask to have your B12 and MMA (methylmalonic acid) ranges checked.

Of these ranges, my neurologist, Dr. David Cornblath at Johns Hopkins, defined, “Both should be normal. One confusing thing in the measurement of B12 alone is that some people have ‘normal’ values but are actually B12 deficient. This can happen when the levels are ‘low normal,’ usually about 200 to 400 [ng/dL], depending on the lab where the B12 is measured. That is why it is important to measure both B12 and MMA at the same time, as an elevated MMA can indicate B12 deficiency even if the B12 is ‘normal.’ When the levels come back, ask to see them yourself and ask questions of your doctor if there is any question of normal B12 metabolism.”

In my case, my B12 ranges have been very low and my MMA ranges have been very excessive, indicating B12 deficiency. I’ve been on B12 photographs since 2009. Because I’m an ultrarunner and am all the time training for my subsequent occasion, I get biweekly 1000mcg B12 injections and taking a every day 1000mcg oral pill.

Don’t Let Unchecked B12 Deficiency Slow You Down

Before I used to be recognized in 2009, I had completed 9 marathons, a bunch of half marathons and 4 50-mile ultramarathons. In hindsight, I think my two back-to-back DNF ultras in 2008 might have been the results of my B12 deficiency. I had been experiencing fatigue, shortness of breath, twitching and numbness I couldn’t clarify throughout my training and races, in addition to in my day by day life.

In 2017, I skilled a brand new bout of B12 deficiency I had not anticipated–depletion of my B12 brought on by drugs I used to be taking to scale back gastroesophageal reflux illness and heartburn. I had been taking the medicine for 10 months once I ran the 2017 Wildcat 100 Ultramarathon. During the race, my toes have been burning, and this actually slowed me down. For a few month after the extremely, my legs and arms skilled tingling sensations. My fingers twitched. I used to be weak. I had no power to run, stroll or power practice. After having my B12 ranges checked, I found that it had decreased from over 2000 to 1226, a direct results of the medicine. As a end result, my biweekly B12 injections have been elevated to weekly 1000mcg injections and my day by day oral consumption doubled. My B12 ranges went again up, the signs subsided and I started training for my 22nd extremely.

Don’t Ignore Your Symptoms

Untreated B12 deficiency could be life-threatening. It can result in paralysis, dementia, psychosis and everlasting injury. My proper toe has residual numbness. Still, every now and then, my fingers will painfully twitch, my calves will painfully spasm once I stretch earlier than getting away from bed and my toes will painfully cramp at relaxation. If you’re having tingling, numbness and spasms in your limbs and are woke up by painful calf and toe cramps, or in the event you expertise another signs related to B12 deficiency, get your B12 and MMA ranges checked. Don’t let your physician brush off your signs. If your signs persist even after getting a B12 shot, one injection is probably not sufficient. Every affected person is totally different. Find a prime neurologist. Get second and third opinions. Don’t let disabling and harmful B12 deficiency cease you from crossing the end line!


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