Symptoms of B12 deficiency
Understanding Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is plays an essential role in the production of your red blood cells & DNA, as well as the proper functioning of your nervous system. Its deficiency is very common and can be easily corrected.
People at risk of a B12 deficiency -
▪️Surgical history including a gastrectomy, resection of the terminal ileum, or gastric bypass
▪️Malabsorption due to Crohn's or celiac disease
▪️People on the drug metformin for diabetes
▪️Long-term use of antacid drugs for heartburn
Symptoms of B12 deficiency -
▪️Pale or Jaundiced Skin – Deficiency of B12 leads to a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, in which the red blood cells produced in your bone marrow are large and fragile. These RBCs are too large to pass out of the bone marrow. Leading to the lack of RBCs circulating around the body, which can make the skin appear pale in colour.
▪️Weakness and Fatigue – Due to the lack of B12, the body isn’t able to produce enough red blood cells to effectively transport oxygen throughout the body. This can make one feel tired and weak
▪️Sensations of Pins and Needles - B12 plays an important role in the production of myelin, which insulates the nerves and is critical for nervous system function
▪️Changes to Mobility - The damage caused by long-term, untreated B12 deficiency can affect balance and cause changes to the way in walking and movement
▪️Inflamed tongue and mouth ulcers - An early sign of B12 deficiency may be a red and swollen tongue with long straight lesions, a condition is known as glossitis. Additionally, some people with a B12 deficiency may experience other oral symptoms, such as mouth ulcers, feelings of pins and needles in the tongue or a burning and itching sensation in the mouth
▪️Breathlessness and Dizziness - Anaemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency can cause some people to feel breathless and dizzy due to the bodies inability to transport enough oxygen to all its cells
▪️Disturbed Vision - In rare cases, the nervous system damage caused by a B12 deficiency can affect the optic nerve resulting in blurred or disturbed vision
▪️Mood Changes - Low levels of B12 have been linked to mood and brain disorders like depression and dementia. High levels of homocysteine caused by low levels of B12 could cause damage to the brain tissue and interfere with signals to and from your brain, leading to mood changes
If you feel that may be deficient in this key Vitamin, get your levels tested. Timely intervention can help curb the adverse effects that B12 deficiency may cause.
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There are several signs and symptoms that may indicate a deficiency in vitamin B12. These can include:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Difficulty maintaining balance
- Mood changes, such as depression or irritability
- Memory loss
- Dementia or cognitive decline
- Soreness of the mouth or tongue
- Changes in vision
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and suspect that you may be deficient in vitamin B12, it is important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. They can order a blood test to determine if you have a deficiency and recommend treatment if necessary.
Steps to determine if you are deficient in vitamin B12:
- Review the patient's medical history and dietary habits: Certain medical conditions and medications can increase the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. It is also important to determine if the patient follows a vegetarian or vegan diet, as these diets may increase the risk of deficiency.
- Conduct a physical examination: During the examination, I would look for signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, such as pale skin, weakness, and changes in mood or cognitive function.
- Order a blood test: A blood test can measure the level of vitamin B12 in the patient's blood. A deficiency is typically diagnosed if the patient's vitamin B12 levels are below the normal range.
- Consider other diagnostic tests: If the blood test does not provide a clear diagnosis, I may recommend additional tests, such as a methylmalonic acid test or homocysteine test, to confirm a deficiency.
Overall, it is important to work closely with a healthcare provider to accurately diagnose and treat a vitamin B12 deficiency.