Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that naturally occurs in certain foods, including dairy products. From assisting in the production of red blood cells to looking after the function of your central nervous system, this vitamin takes care of various tasks in your body. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to replenish low levels of B12 once you identify the deficiency.
The Harvard Medical School explains that vitamin B12 deficiency can be slow to develop.
This could cause symptoms to crop up gradually and grow in intensity over time. However, the onset can also be relatively quick.
One key sign to be aware is a “strange” sensation in your hands, according to the health portal.
Vitamin B12 deficiency could present with numbness or tingling in this area, ringing the alarm bells.
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Other body areas that can also be affected by this “strange” sensation include your legs and feet.
According to the NHS, this sign is also known as pins and needles or paraesthesia.
The health service explains that this symptom occurs when the blood supply to the nerves gets cut off.
This usually occurs when you sit or sleep on a part of your body. It can be relieved by taking the weight off the affected body part.
While pins and needles could be pointing to vitamin B12 deficiency, this isn’t the only symptom hinting at the condition.
The Harvard Medical School explains that the variety of signs could be confusing. However, knowing what to look for could help.
The full list of symptoms includes:
- Extreme tiredness
- Lack of energy
- Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
- Sore and red tongue
- Mouth ulcers
- Muscle weakness
- Disturbed vision
- Psychological problems (depression and confusion)
- Problems with memory, understanding and judgement.
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The NHS urges seeing a GP if you experience symptoms of this deficiency.
It states: “It’s important for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
“This is because although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible.”
Fortunately, the lack of B12 can be often picked up based on your symptoms in combination with a blood test.
What to do when I’m vitamin B12 deficient?
Depending on what exactly is causing the condition, your doctor will choose the best course of treatment.
However, most people can be aided with either injections or tablets that replace the missing nutrient.
There are also “good” food sources of vitamin B12 including:
- Salmon and cod
- Milk and other dairy products
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