Vitamin B12 is a type of water-soluble vitamin that plays a number of essential roles in the everyday workings of the body. But if you aren’t getting enough of the vitamin, it could lead to a number of serious consequences.
The vitamin helps the body to make red blood cells and keep the nervous system healthy, according to the NHS.
It’s also used to help release energy from food, as well as help folate to make white blood cells.
Most people need about 1.5mcg of vitamin B12 every single day – and the body doesn’t naturally manufacture it.
That means huge numbers of people across the world have a vitamin B12 deficiency without even knowing it.
Signs of a deficiency can takes years to develop, which means you might struggle to notice the immediate changes.
But it’s absolutely essential that you spot the condition as early as possible, as it can lead to some unwanted complications.
Some patients may go on to develop cognitive decline, nervous system damage, and even anaemia.
One of the most common warning signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency is having unusually pale or yellow skin.
The symptom is known as jaundice, and is characterised by a slight yellow tinge to the skin and the whites of the eyes.
You should seek immediate medical help if you think that you have jaundice, as it could be caused by a number of conditions.
Some B12 deficiency patients may also feel very fatigued or have persistent pins and needles, according to nutritionist Helen West.
Small changes to the tongue have also been claimed to be caused by a deficiency.
Most common vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms
Persistent pins and needles
Changes to mobility
Persistent mouth ulcers
“Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods, including meats, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy,” said the nutritionist.
She wrote for medical website Healthline: “Unfortunately, B12 deficiency is common, especially in the elderly.
“You’re at risk of deficiency if you don’t get enough from your diet or aren’t able to absorb enough from the food you eat.
“Unfortunately, symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to show up, and diagnosing it can be complex.”