Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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Most people who are diagnosed with a vitamin B12 deficiency have acquired an autoimmune condition called pernicious anaemia, but that’s not the only culprit behind low levels of the nutrient. WebMD pointed out that constipation, diarrhoea and gas could be indicative of a vitamin B12 malabsorption issue. One reason for this malabsorption issue could be due to Crohn’s disease, added the NHS.
What’s Crohn’s disease?
The inflammatory bowel condition can lead to symptoms of:
- Stomach aches and cramps
- Blood in your poo
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Weight loss.
The symptoms may be constant or can come and go; flare-ups can be unpredictable.
Crohn’s disease can also lead to a high temperature, nausea, joint pains, sore, red eyes, and mouth ulcers.
One possible complication of Crohn’s disease is that there may be difficulty “absorbing nutrients from food”.
Why is vitamin B12 important?
Vitamin B12 is a crucial nutrient that helps to keep the body’s blood and nerve cells healthy.
The nutrient is important for DNA synthesis and helps to prevent megaloblastic anaemia, added the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
A lack of vitamin B12 will lead to the formation of unhealthy red blood cells.
When red blood cells are deformed, they’re unable to supply the body with adequate supplies of oxygen.
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The lack of healthy red blood cells is known as megaloblastic anaemia, which the NHS pointed out can lead to:
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- Lack of energy (lethargy)
- Feeling faint
- Pale skin
- Noticeable heartbeats (palpitations)
- Hearing sounds coming from inside the body, rather than from an outside source (tinnitus)
- Loss of appetite and weight loss.
Other signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency, as stated by WebMd, include:
- Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
- Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- A smooth tongue
- Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking
- Vision loss
- Mental problems like depression, memory loss, or behavioural changes.
“Complications can occasionally develop,” the NHS warned, especially if you’ve been deficient in vitamin B12 for some time.
Ongoing megaloblastic anaemia can lead to heart and lung health complications.
Adults with severe anaemia are at risk of developing tachycardia – i.e. an abnormally fast heartbeat.
Another serious complication is the development of heart failure, which is when the heart fails to pump enough blood around the body at the correct pressure.
The main symptoms of heart failure include breathlessness after rest or activity.
Breathlessness may worsen when lying down, and you might find you’re waking up during the night trying to catch your breath.
Another key indication of heart failure is an unshakeable feeling of fatigue.
This means you’ll feel tired most of the time, no matter what you’re doing, and exercise might be exhausting.
Another possible sign of heart failure is oedema – when the ankles and legs are swollen; this is caused by a build-up of fluid.
“It may be better in the morning and get worse later in the day,” added the national health service.
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