Sunday, May 15, 2022
(Ahdath Net / Salwa Al-Sharjabi / translations)
Vitamin B12 deficiency is described as “harmful”, and if left untreated, it can lead to various health problems. Express.co.uk spoke to Dr Sarah Kayat, Medical Ambassador for Superdrug, about the ‘irreversible’ consequences that could occur.
The NHS warns “it is important that anemia due to a deficiency of folic acid or vitamin B12 is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.”
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“Although many symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be incurable if left untreated.” Dr. Sarah explained the specific damage that could occur as a result.
The scary part about vitamin B12 deficiency is that the longer you leave it untreated, the “more” your chances of permanent damage will be.
“While some may have a mild vitamin B12 deficiency for many years without developing any symptoms, if they are significant and left untreated, symptoms can worsen and eventually lead to irreversible damage to the nervous system,” said Dr. Sarah.
Since your body needs the vitamin to form nerves and take care of the function of the central nervous system, a vitamin B12 deficiency can affect this area as well.
Harvard Medical School explains that the average person needs 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day.
As with most vitamins, your body is not able to manufacture this vitamin on its own.
That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting either from your diet or from supplements.
While the amount of vitamin B12 found in fruits and vegetables is not enough to meet your daily goal, there are some vegetarian options that contain this vitamin.
From yeast extract to fortified foods, vegetarians are advised to look at food labels to see how much vitamin B12 their food contains.
What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
Although this condition can pose serious problems, it doesn’t happen without your body setting off alarm bells.
Dr Sarah said: “Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath and feeling faint.
“However there are a number of lesser known signs including numbness or pins and needles, depression, visual disturbance, pain and inflammation in the mouth.”
The NHS notes that symptoms usually develop gradually but can get worse when the condition is not caught.
Dr Sarah advised: “If you are experiencing any of these signs it is important to consult your doctor as there are a number of different conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
“Your doctor will likely suggest a blood test to include vitamin B12 levels.”
Fortunately, a deficiency can often be detected based on your symptoms or during a blood test.
Once the condition is confirmed, there are various procedures that can replenish B12 levels.
The doctor added, “Treatment is done by correcting the deficiency either by increasing your dietary sources or taking vitamin B12 supplements orally or by injection depending on the cause and severity of your deficiency.”
The NHS explains that “good” food sources are hidden in animal-derived products including:
Salmon and cod
Milk and other dairy products
Instead, your doctor will recommend either injections or supplements to get your levels back to the right place.