Vitamin B12 deficiency: Unsteady movements ‘may be subtle at first but usually increase’

Dr Oscar Duke issues warning over ‘fizzy’ vitamins

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There are a number of people who are susceptible to having a B12 deficiency, though people can gain the vitamin from some foods. The NHS says those aged 19 to 64 need about 1.5 micrograms a day of vitamin B12. The health body explains if you eat meat, fish or dairy foods, you should be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet. It says taking 2.0 micrograms or less a day of vitamin B12 in supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.

The NHS says if you have anaemia caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, you may have other symptoms, such as:

  • A pale yellow tinge to your skin
  • A sore and red tongue (glossitis)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
  • Disturbed vision.

Others experience changes in the way that they walk and move around, or unsteady movements, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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There are also some additional symptoms in people with anaemia caused by a folate deficiency.

The NHS says these can include:

  • Symptoms related to anaemia
  • Reduced sense of taste
  • Diarrhoea
  • Numbness and tingling in the feet and hands
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression.

The health body warns: “It’s important for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.”

It warns: “The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the chance of permanent damage.”

The Mayo Clinic says: “Vitamin deficiency anaemia usually develops slowly over several months to years.

“Signs and symptoms may be subtle at first but usually increase as the deficiency worsens.”

Moreover, vitamin B12 plays an essential role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function and the production of DNA.

Although a vitamin B12 deficiency is something which can be dangerous, people should be careful not to take too many supplements.

The Mayo Clinic states: “Most people get enough vitamin B12 from a balanced diet. “However, older adults, vegetarians, vegans and people who have conditions that affect their ability to absorb vitamin B12 from foods might benefit from the use of oral supplements.”

It adds that vitamin B12 supplements are also sometimes recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding exclusively and follow vegetarian or vegan diets.

B12 is naturally found in:

  • Meat and liver
  • Fish
  • Clams
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Eggs.

Plant-based sources of vitamin B12 include yeast extract, fortified plant milks and fortified breakfast cereals.

The NIH says vitamin B12 has the potential to interact with certain medications.

It notes: “ In addition, several types of medications might adversely affect vitamin B12 levels.

“A few examples are provided below. Individuals taking these and other medications on a regular basis should discuss their vitamin B12 status with their healthcare providers.”

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