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

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Vitamin B12’s contribution to the body is invaluable. It plays a key role in the production of red blood cells, as well as in your DNA, and the normal functioning of your nervous system. In regards to the latter, adderall ir vs xr dose falling short of the required amount of B12 can cause nerve damage.

Low B12 levels can cause pins and needles, also called paraesthesia.

According to Holland and Barrett, “this symptom is a reflection of possible nerve damage or nerve issues”.

How? The health body explains: “Vitamin B12 is important for the metabolic process that produces myelin. Myelin surrounds your nerves in order to protect and insulate them.

“If you do not get enough B12, myelin is produced differently, and your nervous system does not function well.”

As it explains, a prickling sensation in your hands and feet can be a sign that this is happening.

It is worth noting that a range of conditions can give rise to pins and needles.

These include:

  • Sciatica
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Getting treatments like chemotherapy.

How to respond

See a GP if you’re experiencing symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, advises the NHS.

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“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 low B12?

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

Pernicious anaemia is the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK. It is an autoimmune condition, meaning your immune system attacks the cells in your stomach that produce the intrinsic factor; a protein your body uses to absorb vitamin B12.

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

Those adhering strictly to a vegan or vegetarian diet are at a greater risk of B12 deficiency because B12 is naturally found in meat, fish and dairy products.

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.

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,” notes the NHS.

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