Vitamin B12 is vital for a well-functioning nervous system and bodily functions. It’s a natural occurring vitamin found in animal-based produce, such as meat, milk and eggs, so those that go vegetarian or vegan may begin to feel the effect of cutting out these foods as their vitamin B12 levels begin to deplete. It can also have a huge effect on the elderly, as the body slowly becomes worse and worse at absorbing B12 nutrients from the food that we consume over time.
Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency sometimes take years to show, with diagnosis being complex and timely in most cases. It’s often mistaken for other diseases or deficiencies, with symptoms becoming even worse as time goes on.
The most common warning sign of a B12 deficiency is pale or jaundiced skin, which can also have an effect on the colour of the eyes. This happens through low levels of B12 inhibiting the division of the red blood cells, which can lead to megaloblastic anaemia, whereby the blood cells in your bone marrow are large and fragile. They lose the ability to leave your bone marrow and flow into the blood stream, and so your skin can appear much paler as a result.
Weakness or Tiredness
Your body becomes weak and tired as a result of lack of B12 for the same reason as before. You slowly lose the ability to transport oxygen around the body through red blood cells, which causes you to feel completely out of energy to get normal day-to-day tasks done effectively. This is even worse for elderly adults that already experience a lack of energy with their age.
Pins and Needles
It’s possible to develop long-term nerve damage due to B12 deficiency. Without a sufficient amount of B12, your nervous system suffers greatly, and one sign of this is the sensation of pins and needles in your hands and feet. This can of course have many reasons for occurring, and does not necessarily mean that you have B12 deficiency should you experience pins and needles.
Another huge indicator of a B12 deficiency, especially in elderly people is a change in mobility. If left untreated for a number of years, the damage that is caused to your nervous system can have a long-term impact on the way that you walk and talk, which is often the case in older subjects that experience this as a natural part of aging which is made worse when B12 deficient.
Frequent mouth ulcers can be an indication of a B12 deficiency, which can also cause painful and swollen mouth and lips, affecting the way you speak in the worst cases. Long and straight lesions on the tongue can also be an early indication in some people.
Low levels of B12 can be linked to brain disorders such as depression and dementia, causing mood swings or low mood in many people. In some cases of people with low B12 levels, supplementing the vitamin can often boost the mood and stop symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, if you do have serious mental health problems it’s important not to rely simply on vitamin supplements for a fix.
If you feel like you have one or more of the above symptoms, why not head over to our online store, where you can buy a B12 spray bottle for just £12. If that doesn’t help, get in touch with your Bodyline nurse or personal GP for more advice.