Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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Myelin is a fatty substance that is supposed to offer protection and insulation for the nerves in the body. However, if this protective barrier is not there, an uncomfortable sensation develops. A long-term vitamin B12 deficiency leads to nerve damage, stated Healthline. Because of nerve damage, a “prickling” sensation can develop in the hands.
Known as paresthesia, this symptom of a vitamin B12 deficiency usually coincides with warning signs of anaemia.
Vitamin B12 anaemia
When the body lacks an adequate supply of vitamin B12, the development of red blood cells is affected.
Instead of a round, flattish, indented centre, red blood cells grow larger and oval in shape.
Such a deformity affects the amount of haemoglobin each red blood cell can carry.
Haemoglobin is a substance that helps to carry oxygen and nutrients around the body.
When this occurs, the NHS pointed out that symptoms might include:
- Extreme tiredness
- A lack of energy
- Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
- A sore and red tongue
- Mouth ulcers
- Muscle weakness
- Disturbed vision
- Psychological problems, which may include depression and confusion
- Problems with memory, understanding and judgement.
If you suspect you might have a vitamin B12 deficiency, discuss your concerns with your doctor.
A simple blood test can identify whether or not you are deficient in the nutrient.
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If the tingling sensation in your hands is caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, that has been confirmed via a blood test, it means the nervous system has been affected.
This health complication means you are also at risk of vision problems, memory loss, and difficulty with speaking or walking.
Such health problems may be irreversible, so it is important to be vigilant with your health.
This involves annual health check-ups where routine blood tests can be done.
What causes a vitamin B12 deficiency?
Sometimes, the deficiency can be caused by a diet that is lacking in meat, fish and dairy products.
Vegans are particularly at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency if they do not take vitamin B12 supplements or eat foods fortified with vitamin B12.
For some people who have only turned vegan in the past few years, symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency may have only started emerging.
This is because the body can keep stores of vitamin B12 for up to four years without being replenished.
Another underlying health condition can also lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
An example is Crohn’s disease, which is a long-term condition whereby the lining of the digestive system is inflamed.
This can lead to malabsorption issues in which the vitamin B12 consumed cannot be held onto.
Coeliac disease can also lead to malabsorption issues, so speak to your medical care team if you are concerned.
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