Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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Vitamin B12 is a very important ingredient for the healthy running of the body. But huge numbers of people aren’t getting enough B12 in their daily diet. It’s essential that you look out for the most common warning signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
The vitamin is used to help the body manufacture red blood cells, nerves, and DNA.
But, it’s not naturally made by the body, which means you’ll need to get your daily dose of B12 by eating certain foods.
Some people don’t consume enough vitamin B12, however, which subsequently results in a deficiency.
Left untreated, a B12 deficiency could lead to memory loss, a loss of co-ordination, and even damage to the nervous system.
So, if you think you might be at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency, you should speak to a doctor as soon as possible.
But signs of the condition can be very subtle, which means you might not even realise you’re at risk.
The most common symptoms include difficulty walking, anaemia, and persistent pins and needles, according to Harvard Medical School.
You might also develop an unusually swollen or inflamed tongue, which could make it appear like your taste buds have disappeared.
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“Vitamin B12 deficiency can be slow to develop, causing symptoms to appear gradually and intensify over time,” it said. “It can also come on relatively quickly.
“Given the array of symptoms a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause, the condition can be overlooked or confused with something else.
“While an experienced physician may notice the symptoms and be able to detect a vitamin B12 deficiency with a good interview and physical exam, a blood test is needed to confirm the condition.
“It’s a good idea to ask your doctor about having your B12 level checked if you are a strict vegetarian or have had weight-loss surgery or have a condition that interferes with the absorption of food.”
An unexplained eye twitch could also be caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, it’s been claimed.
It can impact just one eye, or them both, and it’s not usually painful – it’s simply just annoying.
But just because you develop any of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a B12 deficiency.
The only way to really know if you’re at risk of the condition is to have a blood test.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a deficiency, your doctor might prescribe you some B12 supplements.
But you could prevent the condition from ever developing by adding more B12 to your diet.
It’s most commonly found in meat, fish, dairy foods, and eggs.
Anybody following a strict vegan or vegetarian diet are more at risk of a B12 deficiency, and it’s suggested you eat more breakfast cereals that have been fortified with the vitamin.
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