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The symptom of B12 deficiency that can be ‘irreversible’

Dr Hilary Jones explains importance of vitamin A and D

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As a result, being low in it is a big problem.

Furthermore, if this deficiency isn’t treated at all or in time, it can cause a range of complications include neurological changes.

One of these is memory loss.

This is just one of several complications that can arise as a result of a B12 deficiency listed by the NHS; other examples include:
• Vision problems
• Pins and needles
• Loss of physical co-ordination
• Damage to other parts of the nervous system.

Furthermore, a B2 deficiency can also lead to temporary infertility, however, this can normally be resolved with treatment of the deficiency, one which can also increase your risk of stomach cancer.

The NHS says: “If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency caused by pernicious anaemia, a condition where your immune system attacks healthy cells in your stomach, your risk of developing stomach cancer is increased.”

If you’re pregnant, a lack of B12 can affect the neural tube, a channel that forms the brain and spina cord of the new born baby.

Examples of defects in this area are:
• Spina bifida – this occurs when the baby’s spine does not develop properly
• Anencephaly – where parts of the brain or skull don’t develop
• Encephalocele – when a hole is made in the skull by a membrane or skin coloured sac containing a part of the brain.

What are the main symptoms of a B12 deficiency and how is it treated?

The main signs and symptoms are:
• Pale yellow tinge to the skin
• Sore and red tongue
• Mouth ulcers
• Pins and needles
• Changes in the way you move and walk around
• Disturbed vision
• Irritability
• Depression
• Changes in the way one thinks, feels, and behaves
• Decline in mental abilities.

The NHS added: “Some of these symptoms can also happen in people who have a vitamin B12 deficiency but have not developed anaemia.”

A B12 deficiency is normally treated with injections of one of two types of vitamin B12, hydroxocobalamin or cyanocobalamin.

These injections will normally be given every two days for two weeks until symptoms start improving.

However, if the reason for a lack of B12 is because of a lack of it in your diet, tablets containing the vitamin may be prescribed.

Sources of vitamin B12 in foods include:
• Meat
• Salmon
• Cod
• Milk
• Other dairy products
• Eggs.

On vegans with a B12 deficiency, the NHS wrote: “People who find it difficult to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets, such as those following a vegan diet, may need vitamin B12 tablets for life.

“Although it’s less common, people with vitamin B12 deficiency caused by a prolonged poor diet may be advised to stop taking the tablets once their vitamin B12 levels have returned to normal and their diet has improved.”

On when you should see a GP, the NHS states: “These conditions can often be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the results of a blood test.

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