Vitamin B12 is important for many body processes, but if it’s in short supply the body won’t make as many red blood cells, they will be abnormally large and won’t last for as long as they should.
If you don’t have enough red blood cells your tissues and organs may not get enough oxygen and this can lead to the symptoms of anaemia.
According to Bupa, your body may lack vitamin B12 if the foods you eat don’t contain enough vitamin B12 – a common problem for vegetarians and vegans – or your body can’t absorb the vitamin – an immune condition called pernicious anaemia can cause this.
So what are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia?
Vitamin B12 is important for many body processes
Vitamin B12 is important for many body processes, but if it’s in short supply the body won’t make as many red blood cells, they will be abnormally large and won’t last for as long as they should
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
Anaemia and anaemia caused by a lack of vitamin B12 can result in seven symptoms, states Boots Web MD:
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue
- A lack of energy or lethargy
- Being out of breath
- Feeling faint
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Lack of appetite
More specific symptoms linked to a lack of vitamin B12 include:
- Yellowing of the skin
- Sore, red tongue
- Mouth ulcers
- Changes or loss of some sense of touch
- Feeling less pain
- Walking problems
- Vision problems
- Mood changes, irritability, depression or psychosis
- Symptoms of dementia
Vitamin B12: If it’s in short supply the body won’t make as many red blood cells
Vitamin B12: A headache and lack of appetite are two of the symptoms
The NHS warns: “See your GP if you’re experiencing symptoms of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia. These conditions can often be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the results of a blood test.
“It’s important for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
“Although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible if left untreated.
“The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the chance of permanent damage.”
Vitamin B12: Yellowing of the skin is a more specific vitamin B12 deficiency symptom
People with vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia may be treated by their doctor with injections of vitamin B12, given tablets or recommendations for changes in their diet.
If you don’t have vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia how can you prevent it?
Bupa recommends getting enough of iron, folate and vitamin B12.
Iron can be found in red meats including beef and lamb, green vegetables including spinach, watercress and kale and dried fruits such as apricots.
Folate is found in poultry, pork, shellfish and green vegetables including peas, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, and vitamin B12 is in red meats, eggs and dairy products.