Vitamin B12 is not produced by your body. It is consumed with eggs, shellfish, meat and dairy. And when it is deficient, things can get a tad confusing, literally.
More than 10 million cases are diagnosed every year in India alone and 40% of the world has it. Unfortunately, because the subtle signs can be mistaken for a whole other ailment, it mostly goes undetected. If untreated, it can lead to anaemia, nervous system disorder and brain disease.
But, it’s not as dangerously mysterious as it sounds; you just need to watch out for the signs. Today, we list them down:
Fatigue – The lack of B12 is one of the many reasons why you might feel tired all the time. Symptoms also include confusion and lethargy.
Heart Palpitations/Shortness of Breath – If you feel rapid, irregular heartbeats or panting even with minimal exertion, you might want to get tested for the deficiency.
Lack of Appetite – A very subtle symptom that needs to be paid heed to. People trying to lose weight may actually see this as a positive sign!
Yellowing of the Skin – Looking severely pale or borderline yellow is one of the early indications.
Mouth Ulcers – Particularly the ones that take too long to heal even with medication.
Mood Changes – Mood swings are also caused by a number of other ailments like hormonal imbalances and mental illness. This is why self-diagnosis of this ailment is near impossible.
Sore, Red Tongue – The tongue will also start feeling extremely smooth in some cases.
Loss of Sense of Touch – This, accompanied by a tingling sensation in the fingers and toes is a tell-tale sign of B12 deficiency.
Vision Trouble – The vision can become significantly blurry when the deficiency occurs.
It is crucial to reiterate the fact that all of these symptoms can easily be overlooked or mistaken for another disease. The ailment can only be diagnosed through tests and screening.
I Have The Deficiency – Now What?
Vegetarians and the elderly are most susceptible to this deficiency. If your blood tests reveal a lack of the vitamin, you need not fret. Like all essential nutrients, there are supplements for this vitamin as well. Vitamin supplements can be taken in the form of tablets or injections.
If possible, you could even add meat and dairy to your diet and get enough of the nutrient without supplements.
However, any nerve damage that is caused by the deficiency is permanent. So, if you experience these symptoms and cannot put a finger on the cause, it is best to consult with your doctor as soon as possible.