Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms – the nine key warning signs that you might be missing

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

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Vitamin B12 is absolutely essential for maintaining the body’s overall health, but many people may not be getting enough of the vitamin in their diet. Would you recognise these nine tell-tale symptoms of a deficiency?

Vitamin B12 is used by the body to make new red blood cells, nerves, and DNA.

It’s also used in a number of other everyday bodily functions, but huge numbers of people may not be getting enough in their diet.

The body doesn’t naturally engineer vitamin B12 – like it does for vitamin D – which is why it’s crucial that everybody eats enough B12-rich foods.

But if you are at risk of a deficiency, it can be difficult to even know.

One of the most common signs of a B12 deficiency is a change to your tongue, according to medical website WebMD.

It may appear smoother than normal, and become particularly painful when eating certain foods, like hot spices or citrus fruits.

Some patients also develop a general sensation of numbness, it added.

It could be caused by the nerves becoming damaged, and might feel similar to pins and needles.

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“Do your hands, feet, or legs feel like they’re on ‘pins and needles’?,” said WebMD.

“Shortage of B12 can damage the protective sheath that covers your nerves.

“Diseases like celiac, Crohn’s, or other gut illnesses may make it harder for your body to absorb the vitamin. So can taking some heartburn drugs.

“You may get ulcers on your gums or tongue. They could be a sign of low B12, anaemia, or another condition.

“The sores usually clear up on their own, but it helps to avoid ingredients that might be irritating or painful, like vinegar, citrus, and hot spices like chili powder.”

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms

  • Numbness

  • Feeling colder than normal

  • Brain fog

  • Weakness

  • Smooth tongue

  • Heart palpitations

  • Mouth sores

  • Constipation

  • Weight loss

The best dietary sources of vitamin B12 include animal products, and some fortified breakfast cereals.

All adults need around 1.5mcg of vitamin B12 every single day.

Most people that eat meat products should be able to get enough B12 in their diet.

But those that follow a vegan diet may be at risk of a deficiency, warned the NHS.

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