Vitamin B12 deficiency: Two ‘sensations’ in your mouth that can indicate low B12 levels

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Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep your body’s blood and nerve cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all of your cells. Like most processes in the body, you do not appreciate the impact it has until it goes awry. If you become deficient in B12, it can cause a torrent of problems.

There are a range of mouth issues that can follow on from B12 deficiency.

According to Holland and Barrett, burning and itching sensations in the mouth can signal low B12 levels.

What’s more, B12 deficiency can lead to glossitis, warns the health body.

Glossitis is when your tongue is inflamed. It changes colour and shape and can become painful and red.

Because the tongue is swollen it can also appear smoother than normal.

Other possible symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Changes in the way you walk or move around (in your mobility)
  • Disturbed vision
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Memory or judgement issues.

Naturally, one definitive way of confirming whether your symptoms are the result of a deficiency in vitamin B12 is to make an appointment with your GP.

In fact, it’s important for vitamin B12 deficiency to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

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“Although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible if left untreated,” warns the NHS.

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

What causes low B12?

Pernicious anaemia is the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK.

Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune condition that affects your stomach, which means your immune system attacks the cells in your stomach that produce the intrinsic factor, a protein needed to absorb vitamin B12.

Some people can develop a vitamin B12 deficiency as a result of not getting enough vitamin B12 from their diet.

A diet that includes meat, fish and dairy products usually provides enough vitamin B12, but people who do not regularly eat these foods can become deficient.

According to the NHS, people who eat a vegan diet and do not take vitamin B12 supplements or eat foods fortified with vitamin B12, are at a greater risk.

How low B12 levels are replenished

The treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency depends on what’s causing the condition.

Most people can be easily treated with injections or tablets to replace the missing vitamins.

Vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia (low red blood cell count) is usually treated with injections of vitamin B12.

There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:

  • Hydroxocobalamin
  • Cyanocobalamin.

The most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK is pernicious anaemia, which is not related to your diet.

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