Vitamin B12 deficiency is fairly common – it affects around 1 in 10 UK adults.
Vitamin B12 is the energy vitamin. It helps make DNA (the genetic material in all cells), together with nerve and blood cells. It’s also vital for maintaining a healthy brain and immune system. So, what are the symptoms of a deficiency?
You’re always tired
Tiredness is a very common symptom of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Your body uses B12 to make red blood cells which carry oxygen to your organs. But without enough oxygen in your cells, you’ll find you feel tired even if you’ve enjoyed a good long sleep.
Although memory problems are often linked to dementia, there can be other causes for “brain fog”. If you’re finding you’re taking longer than usual to recall names of people or places, you could be B12 deficient.
If you find yourself feeling off-balance, light-headed or woozy for no obvious reason, B12 deficiency could be the culprit. Although it’s often overlooked as a symptom of B12 deficiency, it’s actually fairly common.
Pins and needles
A lack of oxygen in your cells caused by B12 deficiency can damage your nerves, decreasing your sensitivity to touch and resulting in numbness and a sensation of pins and needles, especially in your legs.
Your tongue has lost its bumps
Around 50% of people with B12 deficiency lose the bumps (papillae) on their tongues. And since papillae contain taste buds, B12 deficiency can affect how your favourite foods taste to you. A burning or sore sensation on the back of the tongue is another warning sign of a deficiency which is often overlooked.
You’re struggling to lift things
Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause muscle weakness. This happens because your muscles need oxygen to work properly. If your muscles aren’t getting enough oxygen from your red blood cells, you’re likely to feel weaker. You might notice things you used to lift with ease now feel like more of a struggle.
If you’d like to understand more about the vitamin levels in your body, including B12, folate and Vitamin D, a simple blood test will give you the answers you’re looking for.