Vitamin B12 deficiency: The three signs in your tummy signalling the ‘harmful deficiency’

Dr Oscar Duke issues warning over ‘fizzy’ vitamins

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Like with many vitamins, your body can’t make vitamin B12 organically. So, your best shot is getting the vitamin from food. However, some people don’t get enough of vitamin B12 from their diet and others can’t absorb enough of it. This causes the vitamin deficiency to be “relatively common”.

Vitamin B12 deficiency targets about six percent of people below the age of 60.

This statistic climbs even further with age, representing 20 percent.

While this deficiency can be “sneaky” making symptoms appear gradually, leaving it untreated can be “harmful”, the Harvard Medical School explains.

One way to spot the signs is by knowing the possible symptoms, including tummy problems.

According to Hopkins Medicine, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause symptoms including:

  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhoea.

When it comes to loss of appetite, the NHS explains that this sign can be also accompanied by weight loss.

It’s difficult to tell how quickly the deficiency develops as people can experience a fast onset in some cases and a slow one in others.

Although these symptoms can signal vitamin B12 deficiency, these aren’t the only warning signs.

The NHS shares that other symptoms include:

  • Pale yellow tinge to your skin
  • Sore and red tongue 
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Pins and needles
  • Changes in the way that you walk and move around
  • Disturbed vision
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Changes in the way you think, feel and behave
  • Decline in your mental abilities (memory, understanding and judgement).

The health service advises visiting a GP if you experience symptoms like these.

They add: “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 you leave vitamin B12 deficiency untreated, the more likely you will suffer from “permanent damage”.

Fortunately, the condition can be picked up solely based on your symptoms or during a simple blood test.

How to treat a vitamin B12 deficiency?

The treatment for the deficiency will depend on your individual case and what’s causing the condition.

However, the majority of patients can be generally aided with injections or supplements to replace the missing vitamin.

There are also “good” food sources of vitamin B12 including:

  • Meat
  • Salmon and cod
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Eggs.

Around 10 to 14 days after you start your new treatment, you might have blood work done to assess if it’s working for you, the health service adds.

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