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Vitamin B12 has been described as being fuel for the body. The nutrient helps keep the body’s blood and nerve cells healthy and helps make DNA. Little wonder, then, that low B12 levels land a hammer blow to the body including an unusual symptom experienced at night.

In a study published in EJGM, a vitamin B12 deficiency symptom found in night sweats was analysed.

The study looked at a 57-year-old man who was referred for assessment of three to four years history of drenching night sweats needing replacement of bedsheets almost on a nightly basis.

The sweating involved only the upper portion of his body from top of the head to mid chest around the level of the nipples and seemed to be worse after drinking alcohol.

“Vitamin-B12 injections 1000mcg daily for seven days followed by monthly injections were prescribed on the basis of elevated homocysteine levels,” noted the study.

It added: “Patient reported a dramatic response of his sweating after the second injection of vitamin B12 and remained asymptomatic at three months follows up.”

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Another study published in the National Library of Health, looked at a vitamin B12 deficiency causing night sweats.

“Vitamin B12 deficiency is common, phenergan and pregnancy ” began the study.

“It is known to cause a wide spectrum of neurological syndromes, including autonomic dysfunction.

“Three cases are discussed here in which drenching night sweats were thought to be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency.

“All three responded dramatically to vitamin B12 therapy.”

True night sweats are severe hot flashes occurring at night that can drench your clothes and sheets and that are not related to an overheated environment.

They are described as being episodes of extreme perspiration that may soak your nightclothes or bedding and are related to an underlying medical condition or illness.

The exact mechanism of excessive sweating in vitamin B12 deficiency is a matter of speculation and requires further studies. 

Other symptoms reported due to a B12 deficiency include:

  • Weakness, tiredness, or light-headedness
  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • A smooth tongue
  • Constipation, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, or gas
  • Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking
  • Vision loss.

There are several causes of B12 deficiency but the leading cause of B12 deficiency in the UK is pernicious anaemia.

Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune condition whereby your immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in your stomach that produce intrinsic factor – a protein which means your body is unable to absorb vitamin B12.

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

A diet that includes meat, fish and dairy products usually provides enough vitamin B12, but people who do not regularly eat these foods can become deficient.

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