Vitamin B12 supplement: Two indications on your feet that you’re deficient in the nutrient

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

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Pernicious anaemia occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the stomach cells that would otherwise create an important protein called intrinsic factor (IF). In a healthy adult, IF binds to vitamin B12 – which is gained from eating eggs, beef, chicken, and cheese – and is reabsorbed into the body via the gut. Without IF, vitamin B12 (found in various foods) is lost through the digestive process.

How do I know if I’m deficient in vitamin B12?

Harvard Medical School pointed out that a tingling sensation in the feet could be a sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Why does this occur?

Vitamin B12 is vital for red blood cell production, which is responsible for transporting oxygen around the body.

A lack of vitamin B12 will lead to the abnormal development of red blood cells.

To illustrate, red blood cells become larger than needed and can’t function properly.

As less oxygen is able to reach the extremities of the body, such as the feet, a tingling sensation occurs.

Another indication of a vitamin B12 deficiency is slow wound healing on the feet.

The University of Nottingham said that the “lack of vitamin B can affect wound healing in a number of ways”.

This is because B vitamins are needed for:

  • Collagen linkage
  • A healthy immune system
  • Protein synthesis
  • DNA synthesis
  • Formation of red blood cells

Other warning signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency

Harvard Medical School stated that a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Memory loss
  • A swollen, inflamed tongue
  • Difficulty walking
  • Anaemia

“Vitamin B12 deficiency can be slow to develop, causing symptoms to appear gradually and intensify over time,” said Harvard Medical School.

A blood test “is needed to confirm the condition”, but this can easily be arranged by you and your doctor.

If a mild vitamin B12 deficiency is detected, then a multivitamin supplement might be all that is needed.

However, if the deficiency has been prolonged and symptoms are more pronounced, you might need weekly vitamin B12 injections.

Alternatively, you doctor might prescribe high-dose vitamin B12 supplements.

It’s important to rectify a vitamin B12 deficiency because it can lead to “severe neurological problems and blood diseases”.

Aside from pernicious anaemia, a lack of vitamin B12 is a real risk for vegetarians and vegans.

This is because vitamin B12 is not found in plants; it’s only present in animal products or products fortified with vitamin B12.

A lack of vitamin B12 might also occur following weight-loss surgery.

Conditions that interfere with nutrient absorption can also make a person more prone to a vitamin B12 deficiency. Examples include:

  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease

The overuse of heartburn medication can reduce acid production in the stomach, and acid stomach plays a key part in the absorption of vitamin B12, thus a deficiency can occur.

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