Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur when a person’s body lacks vitamin B12. The best way the vitamin is gained is through diet, so not eating enough vitamin B12-rich foods can lead to the condition developing. Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin when it comes to bodily function – it helps the production of red blood cells and keeps the nervous system healthy. A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to fewer red blood cells, which in turn, can trigger symptoms.
Three symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency to note are a red-coloured tongue, mouth ulcers and bad breath
Recognising symptoms as early as possible can help a person receive treatment quicker and can also avoid complications, such as vision problems and damage to the nervous system.
So what are the symptoms?
Feeling tired is one of the most well-known signs of vitamin B12 deficiency, but there are a few symptoms which affect the mouth.
Three to note are a red-coloured tongue, mouth ulcers and bad breath.
About 10 per cent of all bad breath cases are caused by conditions outside of the mouth, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A vitamin B12 deficiency causes the number of enzymes which help with digestion to decrease in the blood.
This increases the amount of waste in the blood, possibly leading to bad breath.
Dr Craig Maxwell, from the Integrative Medical Center in the US, explained to the medical centre: “Poor diet can contribute to the development of the gastrointestinal and oral health problems that cause bad breath.
“A diet based primarily on junk food may also contribute to nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin B12 deficiency, for example, can cause bad breath.
“The best natural cure, in this case, is a wholesome, nutrient-rich diet of organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, wild-caught fish, eggs, and healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado, and olive oil.”
The colour of your tongue can indicate a range of different health problems, for example a yellow tongue can signal poor dental hygiene or smoking.
With vitamin B12 deficiency a person’s tongue may appear more red as a result of glossitis.
Glossitis is the medical term for inflammation of the tongue and the condition has been linked to vitamin B12 deficiency.
One study titled ‘Glossitis’ secondary to vitamin B12 deficiency anemia’ demonstrated this link.
Mouth ulcers are listed as a symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency by the NHS
Cells in the mouth need vitamin B12 and iron to regenerate efficiently, so not getting enough of the vitamin in your diet can lead to the mouth sores.
Scientists in the Netherlands have suggested people who suffer mouth ulcers should be checked for a vitamin B12 deficiency.
But it should be noted mouth ulcers are common, and should clear up on their own within a week or two.
If you experience recurring mouth ulcers, see your GP.
Here are some of the best vitamin B12 foods to include in your diet to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency developing. If you’re vegan or vegetarian or lack vitamin B12 in your diet, you may want to consider taking vitamin B12 supplements.
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