Vitamin B12 deficiency risks – five most common symptoms you shouldn’t ignore

Vitamin B12 deficiency risks – five most common symptoms you shouldn’t ignore

11/22/2021

Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency

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Vitamin B12 is unique because it can only be found in animal products like eggs, meat, fish and dairy – all of which are excluded from the vegan diet. Working this body-fuelling vitamin into your diet is key to battle the exhausting side effects of a B12 deficiency which could leave you seriously ill if ignored. Preparing our bodies for the cold winter starts with a healthy balanced diet, but what should you look out for to spot a vitamin B12 deficiency?

What are the common symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency?

B12 is an essential part of a healthy diet, so a lack of this energising vitamin could leave you feeling deflated and under the weather.

A B12 deficiency can present itself through a range of physical symptoms which can affect everything from the skin to your mouth.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Giulia Guerrini, lead pharmacist from digital pharmacy, Medino said: “A common symptom is feeling pins and needles – especially in your fingers and toes.

“Many patients have reported feeling tired as well as experiencing brain fog and memory loss.”

According to medical website, Healthline, the most common health risks associated with a lack of B12 in your diet include:

  • Glossitis (inflamed tongue)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Disturbed vision

Oral symptoms are one of the earliest signs of a B12 deficiency and can present as a red, swollen tongue which is known as glossitis.

This painful condition often causes long straight lesions on the inflamed surface of the tongue as well as multiple mouth ulcers.

Oral side effects of a B12 deficiency can alter the way you eat and speak while also being very uncomfortable to deal with.

Breathlessness and dizziness

Anaemia is commonly associated with a B12 deficiency which can leave you feeling short of breath and dizzy – especially when your body is overexerted.

This is caused by a lack of red blood cells which fail to carry enough oxygen to your body’s cells, leaving you feeling weak and fatigued.

Disturbed vision

Blurred vision is caused by optic nerve damage which can happen when your body is lacking in vitamin B12.

This is a less common risk of failing to consume enough B12 but it can often be rectified by increasing your intake of this crucial vitamin.

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Breathlessness and dizziness

Anaemia is commonly associated with a B12 deficiency which can leave you feeling short of breath and dizzy – especially when your body is overexerted.

This is caused by a lack of red blood cells which fail to carry enough oxygen to your body’s cells, leaving you feeling weak and fatigued.

Disturbed vision

Blurred vision is caused by optic nerve damage which can happen when your body is lacking in vitamin B12.

This is a less common risk of failing to consume enough B12 but it can often be rectified by increasing your intake of this crucial vitamin.

Who is most at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency?

If you’re not consuming enough B12 through your diet or vitamin supplements, there is a good chance your body is deficient – but there are four groups which could be deficient for other reasons.

Giulia explained: “A lack of vitamin B12 can affect the nervous system and lead to a form of anaemia called macrocytic anaemia.

“Symptoms can show gradually and the severity and type of symptoms varies and depends on different factors such as age, diet, pre-existing conditions and medications.

“For example vegetarians, those with gut conditions, those regularly taking medications such as antacids, or people above the age of 65 are more at risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency. “

What foods contain vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is commonly associated with animal products like eggs, meat, fish and dairy products.

With vegetarian and vegan diets becoming increasingly popular across the country, working vitamin B12 into these food requirements can be tricky – though fortified products are a good option.

Breakfast and cereal grains can often be fortified with vitamin B12 for an added boost of nutrients as well as non-dairy milk and meat substitutes.

Giulia added: “Taking vitamin B12 supplements normally helps to bring the level up, although some people might need an extra boost if their levels are really low.

“If you have intestinal problems or take medication such as antacids, they can affect the rate of absorption of vitamin B12, so consider taking a B12 supplement in the form of a spray instead – for example Better You B12 boost spray – this way you can spray it under your tongue or inside your cheeks, bypassing the stomach bit and increasing the chance of absorption.”

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