Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that the body absorbs through eating certain foods. Chief among its primary functions is to keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and help make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. In some people, dietary intake of B12 is impeded, however. When a person experiences a B12 deficiency, there are a multitude of unusual ailments. Experiencing this type of pain on the body could mean you’re lacking in vitamin B12.
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Vitamin B12 deficiencies can cause a wide range of symptoms.
These symptoms usually develop gradually, however, they can worsen if the condition goes untreated.
Anaemia is when a person has fewer red blood cells than normal or a person has abnormally low amounts of a substance known as haemoglobin in each red blood cell.
When a person experiences this they may notice a pale yellow on the skin a sore and red tongue or mouth ulcers.
Pain on the side of the body is another warning sign your body doesn’t have sufficient vitamin B12.
The Thyroid Patient Advocacy said “Nerve shock in the side of the body is a warning sign of a B12 deficiency.
“It can be felt coming on a few seconds before it hits, and then it hits almost like a mild but deep electric shock and quickly subsides.
“It can occur at the side of either hip or on either side of the upper body, along the ribs.
“Worse yet, it can occur consecutively in at least two or three locations, one right after the other.”
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How is B12 deficiency diagnosed?
According to the NHS, a diagnosis of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia can often be made by a GP based on your symptoms and the results of blood tests.
Pernicious anaemia is usually picked up through additional blood tests that seek to identify the underlying cause, although the tests are not always conclusive, says the health site.
If your B12 deficiency is directly caused by insufficient dietary intake, you may be prescribed vitamin B12 tablets to take every day between meals, notes the NHS.
“People who find it difficult to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets, such as those following a vegan diet, may need vitamin B12 tablets for life,” it explains.
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What foods naturally contain B12?
Good sources of vitamin B12 include:
- Salmon and cod
- Milk and other dairy products
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan or are looking for alternatives to meat and dairy products, there are other foods that contain vitamin B12.
Yeast extract (including Marmite), as well as some fortified breakfast cereals and soy products all contain B12, notes the NHS.
The NHS advice seeing a GP if you think you may have a vitamin B12 deficiency because these conditions can often be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the results of a blood test.
It’s also important for vitamin B12 deficiency to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, as the NHS explains: “This is because although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible.”
It is usually numerological complications of a vitamin B12 deficiency, such as vision problems and memory loss, that may be irreversible.
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