5 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency


– Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamine, plays an important role
in the production of your red blood cells and DNA, as well as the proper functioning
of your nervous system. Unfortunately, vitamin B12
deficiency is quite common. So in this video we’re
looking at who’s most at risk and what are the common signs
that you should look for. (gently chiming bells) Basically, you’re at risk of deficiency if you don’t get enough
vitamin B12 from your diet, or you don’t absorb enough
from the food that you do eat. People at risk of a B12 deficiency include the elderly, those who’ve
had surgery that removes part of the bowel that absorbs B12, people on the drug metformin for diabetes, people following a strict vegan diet as B12 is found in animal
foods like meat and dairy, those taking long-term
antacid drugs for heartburn. Symptoms of a B12 deficiency
can take years to show up and is really difficult to diagnose. What’s more its often mistaken for a folate deficiency as well. So the first symptom of
true vitamin B12 deficiency is pale or jaundiced skin. People with a B12
deficiency often look pale or have a slight yellow tinge to the skin and whites of the eyes, a
condition known as jaundice. This happens when a lack
of B12 causes problems with your body’s red
blood cell production. Basically you end up with fewer
red blood cells circulating around your body and your
skin can appear pale in color. The red blood cells are
really fragile as well which means many of them
break down causing an excess of a brown color substance
called bilirubin. It’s this substance that gives the skin and eyes a yellow tinge. Number two, weakness and fatigue. This occurs in vitamin B12 deficiency because your body doesn’t have enough B12 to make red blood cells,
and red blood cells are used to transport oxygen around the body. As a result, you are unable to
efficiently transport oxygen to your body’s cells, making
you feel tired and weak. In the elderly, this type
of anemia is often caused by an autoimmune condition
known as pernicious anemia. Now people with pernicious
anemia don’t produce enough of an important protein
called intrinsic factor. This is essential for
preventing a B12 deficiency as it binds with vitamin B12 in your gut so that you’re able to absorb it. Number three, glossitis and mouth ulcers. Glossitis is a term used to
describe an inflamed tongue. It can also make your
tongue look really smooth, as well as the little bumps
that contain your taste buds stretch out and disappear. Studies have shown that a
swollen and inflamed tongue that has long straight lesions on it could be an early sign of
vitamin B12 deficiency. Additionally, some people may
experience other oral symptoms such as mouth ulcers, a
burning and itching sensation in the mouth, or feelings of
pins and needles in the tongue. Speaking of which, number four is sensations of pins and needles. Now one of the more serious side effects of long-term vitamin B12
deficiency is nerve damage. This can occur over time, as vitamin B12 is an important contributor
to the metabolic pathway that produces the fatty substance myelin. Myelin surrounds your nerves as a form of protection and insulation. Without B12, myelin is
produced differently, and you’re nervous system isn’t
able to function properly. One common sign of this
happening is parasthesia, or the sensation of pins and
needles, which is similar to a prickling sensation
in your hands and feet. That said, the sensation
of pins and needles is a common symptom that
can have many causes. So that symptom on its own is usually not a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency. Number five, disturbed vision. Blurred or disturbed vision can occur when untreated vitamin B12
deficiency results in nerve damage to the optic
nerve that goes to your eye. The damage can disrupt the
nervous signal that travels from your eye to your brain
impairing your vision. It’s not unlike untreated diabetes. Now this condition is
known as optic neuropathy. Although alarming it’s often reversible by supplementing B12. In fact, for most people a B12 deficiency should be easy to prevent just by ensuring you get enough vitamin B12 in your diet. And if you have to treat a deficiency, then usually a supplement will do it. Thanks for watching, make
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