Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms: Three warning signs on your feet to watch out for

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms: Three warning signs on your feet to watch out for


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

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Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that supports the body’s vital functions by helping keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helping to make DNA. The nutrient’s contribution is easily overlooked if you are getting enough of it but low levels can have a pernicious effect on the body. Many of these effects can show up on the feet.

According to information published in the Clinical Medicine journal, B12 deficiency can cause a numbness in the feet that may result in an inability to feel the ground.

The journal also highlights a number of visual clues of B12 deficiency on the feet.

These include:

  • Darkening of the feet
  • Skin lesions on feet.

If left untreated, the condition can also cause grave psychiatric problems.

“Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to deep depression, paranoia and delusions,” warns Harvard Health.

What causes B12 deficiency?

There are two primary causes of B12 deficiency – dietary-related and pernicious anaemia.

Pernicious anaemia – the leading cause of B12 deficiency in the UK – causes your immune system to attack the cells in your stomach that produce intrinsic factor.

Intrinsic factor is a protein that helps your intestines absorb vitamin B12.

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People following a vegetarian diet are also prone to B12 deficiency.

That’s because vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods and is added to some fortified foods.

“Plant foods have no vitamin B12 unless they are fortified,” explains the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

How to treat it

Naturally, the treatment for vitamin B12 depends on what’s causing the condition.

Vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia is usually treated with injections of vitamin B12.

There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:

  • Hydroxocobalamin
  • Cyanocobalamin.

According to the NHS, if your vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by a lack of the vitamin in your diet, you may be prescribed vitamin B12 tablets to take every day between meals.

“Or you may need to have an injection of hydroxocobalamin twice a year,” explains the health body.

It adds: “People who find it difficult to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets, such as those following a vegan diet, may need vitamin B12 tablets for life.”

Busting B12 myths

According to Harvard Health, the internet is awash with articles lauding the use of vitamin B12 to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.

“Most are based on poor or faulty evidence,” warns the health body.

It adds: “For now, it’s best to get enough vitamin B12 to prevent a deficiency, and not look to it as a remedy for what ails you.”

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