Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explained there can be various causes of a vitamin B12 deficiency, including diet, an autoimmune condition, and the overuse of certain medications. Are you affected? The “hallmark” side effect of a vitamin B12 deficiency is “megaloblastic anaemia”, characterised by abnormally red blood cells. This condition may result in “atrophic glossitis”, which is when tiny bumps on the tongue (papillae) start to waste away, WebMD stated.
Such an occurrence leads to a “smooth” texture of the tongue, side effects of imitrex injection which may look “glossy”.
The NIH pointed out that other physical indications of a vitamin B12 deficiency might include:
- Pale skin
- Weight loss
- Tingling in the hands and feet.
Which foods contain vitamin B12?
“Vitamin B12 is naturally present in foods of animal origin, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products,” said the NIH.
Vitamin B12 supplements and multivitamins are another way to absorb the vital nutrient.
If you’re eating enough foods rich in vitamin B12, which is likely if you’re not a vegan, then there are other reasons why this deficiency occurs.
As stated earlier, some people may develop an autoimmune condition – specifically, pernicious anaemia.
This is when the body mistakenly attacks the stomach’s cells, which would otherwise create a protein called intrinsic factor (IF).
IF is useful in binding with vitamin B12 so that the vitamin can be reabsorbed into the body.
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“Pernicious anaemia is the most common cause of clinically evident vitamin B12 deficiency around the world,” said the NIH.
“Severe or long-lasting pernicious anaemia can damage the heart, brain, and other organs in the body.”
The condition can also lead to nerve damage, neurological issues, digestive tract problems, and can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Interestingly, the term “pernicious” means deadly, because – in the past – the condition was fatal.
Thankfully, nowadays, pernicious anaemia is easily treatable with vitamin B12 supplements or injections.
With adequate treatment – best decided by your doctor – people with pernicious anaemia can live normal lives.
However, left untreated, unwelcome health complications will occur over time.
A lack of healthy red blood cells means the heart needs to work harder to move oxygen-rich blood through the body.
As the heart muscle is under extra stress, it can lead to arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), a heart murmur, an enlarged heart, or heart failure.
The nerve damage it produces can cause difficulty with walking and finding your balance.
And a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to weakened bones and can increase the risk of hip fractures.
The condition can even lead to mental confusion, depression and memory loss.
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