Vitamin B12 deficiency: Three signs on your face to spot when looking in the mirror

Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency

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Vitamin B12 performs myriad functions in the body, such as making red blood cells, supporting a healthy nervous system and aiding normal psychological processes. Little wonder then that B12 deficiency wreaks havoc upon the body. Three signs of which can show up on your face.

When looking in the mirror, you should look out for the following:

  • A pale yellow tinge to your skin
  • A sore and red tongue (glossitis)
  • Mouth ulcers.

How to respond

According to the NHS, you should see a GP if you’re experiencing symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.

“These conditions can often be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the results of a blood test,” explains the health body.

It’s important for vitamin B12 deficiency 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,” warns the NHS.

The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the chance of permanent damage.

What causes B12 deficiency?

The most common cause of B12 deficiency in the UK is pernicious anaemia.

Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune disease, caused by antibodies from your immune system attacking your own healthy cells.

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Not getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet can also cause vitamin B12 deficiency.

If you don’t eat meat or animal products, you’re at a disproportionately higher risk of B12 deficiency.

That’s because the richest sources of B12 are animal-based, notes Holland and Barrett.

Sources include:

  • Meat and liver
  • Fish
  • Clams
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Eggs.

According to Holland and Barrett, you can find plant-based sources of B12 too.

These include yeast extract, fortified plant milks, fortified breakfast cereals and soya foods fortified with B12.

How to treat B12 deficiency

The treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency depends on what’s causing the condition.

Most people can be easily treated with injections or tablets to replace the missing vitamins.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is usually treated with injections of vitamin B12.

There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:

  • Hydroxocobalamin
  • Cyanocobalamin.

“If your vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by a lack of the vitamin in your diet, you may be prescribed vitamin B12 tablets to take every day between meals,” explains the NHS.

The health body adds: “Or you may need to have an injection of hydroxocobalamin twice a year.”

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