Vitamin B12 deficiency: Four physical symptoms warning your levels are too low

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Vitamin B12 performs a number of pivotal roles in the body and these roles are responsible for both physical and mental processes. Therefore, lacking in the vitamin could affect the body in a number of ways. What are the four physical symptoms to look out for?

Glossitis and mouth ulcers

Glossitis is a term used to describe an inflamed tongue. When a person has glossitis, the tongue changes colour and shape, making it painful, red and swollen.

The inflammation also makes the tongue look smooth, as the tiny bumps on the tongue that contain the taste buds stretch out and disappear.

Pins and needles

One of the more serious side effects of having a B12 deficiency is nerve damage.

This can occur over time, as vitamin B12 is an important contributor to the metabolic pathway that produces the fatty substance myelin.

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Myelin surrounds the nerves as a form of protection and insulation. Without B12, myelin is produced differently, and the nervous system is not able to function properly.

Disturbed vision

One symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency is blurred or disturbed vision.

This can occur when an untreated B12 deficiency results in nervous system damage to the optic nerve that leads to the eyes.

Weakness or fatigue

Feeling weak or extremely tired are common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.

These feelings occur because the body doesn’t have enough vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body.

The result is an inability to efficiently transport oxygen to the body’s cells, making a person feel tired and weak.

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an important water-soluble vitamin.

It plays an essential role in the production of your red blood cells and DNA, as well as the proper functioning of your nervous system.

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods, including meats, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. However, it can also be found in products fortified with B12, such as some varieties of bread and plant-based milk.

Unfortunately, B12 deficiency is common, especially in the elderly.

The treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency depends on what’s causing the condition, but most people can be easily treated with injections or tablets to replace the missing vitamins.

There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:

• Hydroxocobalamin

• Cyanocobalamin.

“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,” says the NHS.

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.”

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