This Morning: Guest reveals symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
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This can come down to an acquired autoimmune condition, known as pernicious anaemia, after stomach surgery, or the condition atrophic gastritis. Whatever the culprit, a vitamin b12 deficiency leads to the same symptoms. Dr Colin Tidy stated that an untreated vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to “psychological problems”. This can include: “Depression, confusion, difficulty with memory, or even dementia.”
Nerve issues might occur too, such as “numbness, pins and needles, vision changes and unsteadiness”.
These symptoms were verified by Dr Laurence Knott, who also certified that “a lack of vitamin B12 leads to anaemia”.
John Hopkins Medicine explained that anaemia occurs when the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells.
When you have anaemia, “you may look pale,” added Dr Tidy, who mentioned that a lack of vitamin B12 can affect the formation of red blood cells.
Specific symptoms due to anaemia include:
- Feeling faint
Less common symptoms due to anaemia might include:
- Heart palpitations
- Altered taste
- Loss of appetite
Thankfully, before symptoms become too troublesome, or even before they appear, a blood test can determine if you’re deficient in vitamin B12.
This test can be requested by you to your GP, who will then make sure your blood sample is tested for B12 specifically.
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My test results show I have a vitamin B12 deficiency
Further tests might be needed to get to the root cause of your vitamin B12 deficiency.
It could be because you’ve developed pernicious anaemia – one of the most common cases of a vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK.
Acquired at an older age, usually past 50 years old, the immune system begins to attack the cells in the stomach.
These stomach cells are responsible for making a protein called intrinsic factor that usually bind with vitamin B12, enabling it to be reabsorbed back into the body.
However, if the stomach cells are under attack, and can no longer create intrinsic factor, then vitamin B12 is lost.
Instead of being reabsorbed in the gut, like it’s supposed to be, vitamin B12 travels from the stomach to the gut, out through a person’s back passage.
This means no matter how many foods you eat containing vitamin B12, the body isn’t storing the vitamin it needs.
As a result, red blood cells aren’t formed properly, leading to symptoms of anaemia, and psychological problems if the malabsorption continues without treatment.
“You will need vitamin B12 injections,” said Dr Tiny. “The injections are usually given frequently at the start of treatment.”
This enables the liver to store excess vitamin B12, which can then supply the body with the nutrient for several months.
“An injection is then only usually needed every two to three months to top up the supply,” added Dr Tiny.
Dr Knott confirmed that a person’s vitamin B12 dosage depends on whether nerve damage has occurred.
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