Great Britain

Vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms: 8 signs you’re lacking in this crucial vitamin

WE all need vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies functioning at their highest ability.

While we can get most of what we need from food, we can sometimes lack crucial vitamins due to our diet or health issues.

Vitamin b12 is found in certain foods and is crucial to our health and wellbeing.

Experts at Together Health explained that Vitamin b12 is a vital vitamin for helping us with our get-up-and-go.

They said: "It can help keep our blood pressure healthy, protect brain health, maintain a good cholesterol and even help with our libido."

Around one in 10 Brits have a b12 deficiency and many of us are lacking through this essential nuitrient.

They added: "We can get Vitamin b12 through food, however, it can be tricky for vegan and vegetarians as its generally found in animal products. and plant foods don’t have b12 unless they are fortified".

Having a b12 deficiency is more common in older people, affecting around 1 in 10 people aged 75 or over and 1 in 20 people aged 65 to 74, the NHS says.

KNOW THE SIGNS

But how do you know if you have a deficiency and what are the signs you should be looking out for?

The NHS says a lack of b12 is also known as deficiency anaemia and it happens when a lack of the vitamin causes the body to produce abnormally large red blood cells that cannot function properly.

Official guidance states: "Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body using a substance called haemoglobin.

"Anaemia is the general term for having either fewer red blood cells than normal or having an abnormally low amount of haemoglobin in each red blood cell."

If you've got a b12 deficiency you might experience the following symptoms:

  1. Tiredness or fatigue
  2. Pins and needles
  3. Sore or red tongue
  4. Muscle weakness
  5. Mouth ulcers
  6. Psychological issues which could include depression
  7. Problems with memory
  8. Disturbed vision

However, just because you have these symptoms, it doesn't always mean you have anaemia and you might just be deficient in b12.

What causes the deficiency?

There are a number of things that can cause a b12 deficiency.

The NHS explains that pernicious anaemia is the most common cause of b12 deficiency in the UK and is when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your stomach, preventing your body absorbing vitamin b12 from the food you eat.

A lack of vitamins in your diet is uncommon, but can happen if you are a vegan and don't eat foods that are fortified and aren't taking a b12 supplement.

It can also happen if you have a poor diet and you have followed fad diets for a long time.

Medicines can also have an impact on how your body absorbs nutrient and the NHS says medications such as anticonvulsants and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can have an impact.

How to treat it

In most cases, improving your diet can help with b12 and you should speak to your GP who will be able to best advise you on whether or not you have a defciency.

If your GP says you are deficient then you'll likely be given supplements via an injection.

If the condition is related to your diet then you may also be given supplements to take around your meals.

You might need to have these treatments for the rest of your life.

Dr Hilary says vitamin D supplements may boost immune systems and prevent coronavirus

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