Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms: The sign in your hands and feet you could be lacking B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency may develop if a person lacks the vitamin from the foods they’re eating. B12 is vital in the production of red blood cells in the body, and also for keeping nerves healthy. If B12 is in short supply in the body, this will effect a person’s red blood cell count and nerves can become damaged. If vitamin B12 deficiency is left untreated, complications, including heart failure, can occur. People who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet may be at risk of the condition because the vitamin is best gained from foods of an animal origin.

Vitamin B12-deficiency may cause symptoms related to your nerves. This is called vitamin B12 neuropathy

Certain medical conditions can affect a person’s absorption of the vitamin, such as pernicious anaemia.

Taking certain medications can also affect B12 absorption.

If vitamin b12 deficiency is spotted early enough it can be easily treated and complications can be avoided.

One sign to be wary of is pins and needles, according to Bupa.

It explains: “Vitamin B12-deficiency may cause symptoms related to your nerves. This is called vitamin B12 neuropathy.

“It may affect your movement and sensation, especially in your legs, cause numbness or pins and needles and decrease your sensitivity to touch, vibration or pain.

“It can also cause confusion, depression, poor concentration and forgetfulness.”

Thyroid Patient Advocacy adds tingling along the back of one or both thighs, starting at the hips and shooting downward, can also be a sign.

This can start out as more of an annoyance than pain, but then develop into pain if not treated.

Sharp stabbing or a tingling pain can also occur in the palm of one or both hands.

It adds: “This occurs suddenly and for no apparent reason in a spot directly below the ring finger, approximately where the first palm crease is.

“If B12 deficiency is not treated, a tingling pain may begin to occur along the outside edge of the hand, starting from the wrist.

“This pain occurs when the wrist is flexed backward.”

Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

Bupa outlines other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency to watch out for:

  • Feeling very tired
  • Breathlessness even after little exercise
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • A reduced appetite
  • A sore mouth and tongue.

It adds: “If you have vitamin B12-deficiency anaemia, you may also look pale or jaundiced (have a yellowy tinge to your skin and the whites of your eyes).”

Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency

If a person isn’t getting enough vitamin B12 from their diet they may be advised by a GP to eat more foods fortified with vitamin B12 or to take regular supplements.

Vitamin B12 injections may also be recommended, and for those with pernicious anaemia, injections may be required for the rest of their lives.

Experts say adults aged 19 to 64 require around 1.5 micrograms (mg) a day of vitamin B12, and unless you have pernicious anaemia, you should be able to get this through your diet.

If vitamin B12 deficiency is triggered by not including enough B12 foods in the diet, Harvard Health Publishing, part of Harvard Medical School, offers the “A list of B12 foods” on its website. 

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