Vitamin B12 deficiency: Nine symptoms of the condition that shouldn’t be missed
A vitamin B12 deficiency can result in anemia, which is when the body has low levels of red blood cells. What are the nine symptoms you might experience if you haven’t got enough of the vitamin?
Red blood cells have a round, flattish, appearance with an indented centre.
They contain the protein hemoglobin, which carries oxygen.
The main function of these types of cells is to carry oxygen around the body and to remove carbon dioxide by transporting it to the lungs to be exhaled.
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Created in the bone marrow, the lifespan of a red blood cell is typically four months.
A lack of vitamin B12 in the diet can cause problems with red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 is found in meat products, such as chicken, beef and liver.
Harvard Medical School explains that symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency “tend to develop slowly”.
As the condition worsens, there are nine signs to look out for.
Harvard Medical School confirms that feeling weak and fatigued is one sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
This may be the result of fewer red blood cells transporting oxygen around vital organs and muscles.
Additionally, some people may feel light-headed and dizzy, while others may feel palpitations and a rapid heart beat.
Another sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency is suffering from shortness of breath.
This can be accompanied by a sore tongue that has a red, beefy appearance.
Moreover, people can experience nausea or have a poor appetite.
And some may experience weight loss and diarrhoea.
There may even be a yellow-fish tinge to the skin and eyes (jaundice).
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As vitamin B12 is found in fish, meat and dairy, vegans are at risk of suffering from this specific type of deficiency.
This risk increases the longer someone practises veganism, as the liver can store B12 for up to five years.
So a vitamin B12 deficiency is rare for non-vegetarians, but it can still happen.
The Harvard Medical School elaborates, saying that a vitamin B12 deficiency can develop when someone is missing “intrinsic factor”.
Also known as pernicious anemia, intrinsic factor is absent from the people with this condition.
Intrinsic factor is a protein secreted by the cells of the stomach lining.
In people without this condition, it attaches to vitamin B12 and transports it to the intestines to be absorbed.
So, no matter how much vitamin B12 is consumed through diet, the absence of intrinsic factors means the body can’t benefit from the vitamin.
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