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

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Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep your body’s blood and nerve cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all of your cells. It’s impact on the body can seem academic but if you fall short of the vitamin, the role it plays becomes all too clear. The symptoms of B12 deficiency are wide-ranging.

One way to spot low B12 levels is by feeling the texture of your tongue.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLB), adalat 25 january 2014 dailymotion a smooth tongue can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Other signs on your tongue include:

  • Thicker than usual
  • Red in colour.

If left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to nerve damage, warns NHLB.

“This can cause tingling and numbness in your hands and feet, muscle weakness, and loss of reflexes,” explains the health body.

“You also may feel unsteady, lose your balance, and have trouble walking. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause weakened bones and may lead to hip fractures.”

How to respond

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

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

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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.

It adds: “The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the chance of permanent damage.”

What causes B12 deficiency

There are two leading causes of B12 deficiency – pernicious anaemia and diet.

Pernicious anaemia – the leading cause of low B12 in the UK – is an autoimmune condition that stops the body from absorbing B12.

Some people can develop a vitamin B12 deficiency as a result of not getting enough vitamin B12 from their diet.

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods, and manufacturers add it to some fortified foods.

“Plant foods have no vitamin B12 unless they are fortified,” explains the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

How to treat low B12

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

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

There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:

  • Hydroxocobalamin
  • Cyanocobalamin.

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