Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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Vitamin B12 deficiency targets around six percent of people aged below 60. However, this statistic rises even further with age, reaching 20 percent. It’s crucial for the condition to get picked up and treated “as soon as possible” because it can lead to “irreversible” damage, the NHS warns. Fortunately, being able to identify the symptoms could be the first step.
According to the Harvard Medical School, vitamin B12 deficiency can be “sneaky” and “harmful”, so it’s important to be aware of the warning signs.
One red flag can appear in your hands, arms, legs, or feet, according to the NHS.
These four areas can show a “strange” sensation which is also known as paraesthesia or pins and needles.
Pins and needles feel like pricking, tingling or numbness on your skin.
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“It happens when the blood supply to the nerves is cut off,” the NHS notes. “This is usually when you sit or sleep on part of your body.”
Pins and needles usually only last for a few minutes and it tends to stop when you take weight off the affected body part. This allows the blood supply to return to your nerves.
While everyone can experience this “strange” sensation every now and then, the health service recommends to “see a GP” if you get pins and needles constantly.
Apart from paraesthesia, another area of your body that could be pointing to low levels of vitamin B12 is your mouth.
The first telling that can crop up in this area is uncomfortable mouth ulcers.
However, B12 deficiency can also change the appearance of your tongue to become sore and red.
If both of these signs keep coming back, you need to speak to your GP.
While these five areas could point to the lack of the nutrient, vitamin B12 deficiency also causes other symptoms that could ring alarm bells.
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According to the NHS, other tell-tale signs of the lack of B12 include:
- Pale yellow tinge to your skin
- Changes in the way that you walk and move around
- Disturbed vision
- Changes in the way you think, feel and behave
- Decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement.
If you start experiencing signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency, it’s important to get prompt help.
The NHS states: “It’s important for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
“Although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible if left untreated.
“The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the chance of permanent damage.”
The good news is that vitamin B12 deficiency can be picked up based on your symptoms and through a blood test.
Between dietary sources, supplements and injections, there are various ways to top up your levels.
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