Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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Low Vitamin B12 and low iron levels are causes of anaemia. Anaemia is when you do not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry the oxygen you need around your body. When anaemia first develops, symptoms can be loss of appetite, constipation, headaches, irritability and difficulty concentrating. Another major indicator that your B12 levels are low include mouth pain and muscle twitches.
Vitamin B12 can affect the mouth causing pain.
The pain can be a burning sensation, a mouth ulcer or a swollen tongue.
These symptoms occur because vitamin B12 deficiency causes a reduction in red blood cell production, which results in less oxygen reaching the tongue.
According to a study in Neurology International published in August 2014, different vitamin deficiencies, including vitamin B12 deficiency, can cause muscle twitching.
But it’s also important to note twitches are common and rarely a sign of anything serious.
They usually go away on their own, but if a twitch lasts more than two weeks, speak to your GP.
Twitches are most often linked to stress and anxiety, tiredness and exhaustion, drinking caffeine or alcohol, and some medicines.
In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the many faces of a vitamin B12 deficiency was analysed.
The study looked at different patients admitted to hospital for a variety of painful symptoms caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency
The study noted: “Patient D is a 33-year-old woman with a history of fatigue, inertia, indolence, paraesthesia in her hands and feet, difficulties concentrating, problems with remembering things, and word finding disturbances.
“The most prevalent symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are neurologic, such as paraesthesia in hands and feet, muscle cramps, dizziness, cognitive disturbances, ataxia, and erectile dysfunction, as well as fatigue, psychiatric symptoms like depression, and macrocytic anaemia.”
Even if a person gets enough vitamin B12 in their diet, some underlying health conditions can affect the absorption of vitamin B12 in the gut.
These conditions include:
What is pernicious anaemia?
Pernicious anaemia is one cause of vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia.
It’s thought mainly to be caused by an autoimmune process that makes a person unable to produce a substance in the stomach called intrinsic factor.
This substance is needed to absorb dietary vitamin B12 in the small intestine.
Vitamin B12 is a required nutrient that helps allow proper red blood cell production and function in the body.
To prevent vitamin B12 deficiency, it’s strongly advised for vegans they should take adequate amounts of vitamin B12 supplements to make up for the shortage in their diet.
For people who cannot absorb B12, the condition cannot be prevented.
However, once it is diagnosed, regular injections of vitamin B12 will prevent symptoms from returning.
If you have been experiencing more pins and needles sensation in your body speak with your GP who can check your B12 levels.
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