Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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Vitamin B12 powers your body in important ways, ranging from supporting the nervous system to helping with the production of red blood cells. The lack of this vitamin can therefore prove insidious. However, your vision could break the news of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
The Harvard Medical School explains that vitamin B12 deficiency can be slow to develop, making the condition “sneaky”.
This could cause symptoms to crop up gradually and grow in intensity over time. However, the onset can also be relatively quick.
Funnily enough, your eyes could help you spot the lack of the essential vitamin.
The NHS explains that one symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency is disturbed vision.
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A medical institute Medanta explains that disturbed of blurred vision appear once the lack of B12 targets your optic nerve.
Medanta shares: “This happens when the deficiency causes damage to the optic nerve that leads to your eyes.
“The nervous signal that travels from the eye to the brain is disturbed due to this damage, leading to impaired vision.
“This condition is called optic neuropathy and treatment involving B12 supplements usually reverses the impairment.”
Although disturbed vision could indicate vitamin B12 deficiency, this isn’t the only symptom alerting of the condition.
The Harvard Medical School explains that the variety of signs could be confusing but knowing what to look for could help.
According to the NHS, the full list of symptoms includes:
- Extreme tiredness
- Lack of energy
- Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
- Sore and red tongue
- Mouth ulcers
- Muscle weakness
- Disturbed vision
- Psychological problems (depression and confusion)
- Problems with memory, understanding and judgement.
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The health service urges to “see a GP” promptly if you think you might have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
It states: “It’s important for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
“This is because although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible.”
The good news is that the lack of B12 can be often picked up based on your symptoms and confirmed through a blood test.
How to treat vitamin B12 deficiency
The course of action will depend on what’s causing the condition in the first place. So, treatments can vary based on what they need to target.
The most common options include injections or tablets to replace the missing B12.
There are also some good food sources of vitamin B12 like meat, salmon and cod, milk and dairy products as well as eggs.
As these are all animal-derived, vegan and plant-based diet followers might often struggle to reach the target for B12. But they can be aided by supplements, for example.
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