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

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Our bodies need an array of different vitamins and minerals to function at their best. Without certain nutrients we can even end up ill. Therefore, spotting the signs of a vitamin deficiency before it becomes too serious is vital.

Vitamin B refers to a group of different vitamins that all play important roles in staying healthy.

They are water-soluble vitamins that are needed for cell metabolism and the creation of red blood cells.

Although they can be taken as individual supplements and are found in different foods, they can also be taken together as a vitamin B complex supplement if required.

According to Anna Middleton, quit smoking pills zyban dental hygienist and founder of London Hygienist, a vitamin B deficiency can lead to angular cheilitis.

She explained: “Angular cheilitis is a skin condition affecting the corners of your mouth. It leads to painful, cracked sores.

“People often confuse angular cheilitis with cold sores.

“Unlike cold sores, angular cheilitis isn’t contagious.

“This condition usually goes away with antifungal skin ointments.

“It can also be a sign of vitamin B deficiency.”

Why does a vitamin B deficiency cause angular cheilitis?

“Vitamin B is responsible for tissue repair and wound healing,” she said.

“If a person is lacking certain key vitamins and minerals it can slow down the recovery from these sores.

“If the body is working well then these splits in the skin pass quickly without interfering with a person’s life too much, but if they are nutritionally lacking this can mean the condition deteriorating further and lasting longer.

“It can also be a sign of vitamin B deficiency.”

Why does a vitamin B deficiency cause angular cheilitis?

“Vitamin B is responsible for tissue repair and wound healing,” she said.

“If a person is lacking certain key vitamins and minerals it can slow down the recovery from these sores.

“If the body is working well then these splits in the skin pass quickly without interfering with a person’s life too much, but if they are nutritionally lacking this can mean the condition deteriorating further and lasting longer.

“It is for this reason that angular cheilitis is said to be associated with vitamin deficiency; not because it causes it but because it makes it worse.”

A common vitamin B deficiency is vitamin B12.

This is because vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal product foods such as meat, eggs and cheese and is therefore frequent among vegetarians and vegans.

Symptoms of a B12 deficiency include:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Lack of energy (lethargy)
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling faint
  • Headaches
  • Pale skin
  • Noticeable heartbeats (palpitations)
  • Hearing sounds coming from inside the body, rather than from an outside source (tinnitus)
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss.

Good sources of B12 in food include:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Yeast extract products like Marmite
  • Fortified cereals.

If diet alone is not enough you can buy vitamin B12 supplements from pharmacies and health stores.

However, if you are still suffering symptoms of a deficiency you should see your GP.

They might prescribe vitamin B12 injections.

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