Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that is critical to kids’ overall growth and development. A diet deficient in B12 can cause fatigue and poor growth. Deficiencies oftentimes go undiagnosed in children. B12 deficiencies can lead to neurological problems later in life. Vegans, vegetarians, infants of vegan mothers, and children with malabsorptive disorders have an increased risk for developing a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12’s job is to keep our nervous system and blood cells healthy. It is needed to make red blood cells which carry oxygen from our lungs to the rest of the body and is vital for making DNA. Our bodies do not make B12, so we need to get an adequate amount from foods or include vitamin supplements containing B12.
Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency in children include:
· Fatigue and extreme tiredness or lack of movement
· Muscle weakness
· Stomach issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, or constipation
· Weight loss
· Delays in hitting developmental milestones, such as sitting, crawling, walking, talking
· A swollen or inflamed tongue (often known as glossitis of the tongue)
B12 can be found in foods such as:
· Meat (red meat and poultry)
· Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
· Fortified breakfast cereals
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, April 4). Vitamin B12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/vitamin-b12.html#:~:text=Infants%20need%20vitamin%20B12%20for,lead%20to%20permanent%20brain%20damage.
Bousselamti, A., El Hasbaoui, B., Echahdi, H., & Krouile, Y. (2018). Psychomotor regression due to vitamin B12 deficiency. The Pan African medical journal, 30, 152. https://doi.org/10.11604/pamj.2018.30.152.12046
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022, December 22). Office of dietary supplements – vitamin B12. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/#:~:text=Vegans%20who%20consume%20no%20animal,foods%20%5B3%2C55%5D.