Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms: The sign in your legs you could be lacking B12
Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur if a person isn’t getting enough of the essential vitamin from the foods they’re eating. Vitamin B12 plays a large role in the production of red blood cells and healthy nerves, and if it’s in short supply, a person will lack red blood cells and nerves risk becoming damaged. If vitamin B12 deficiency persists, a person can be at risk of serious health complications, including heart failure. People at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency include vegans and vegetarians – this is because the best sources of B12 comes from foods of an animal origin.
Certain medical conditions can also affect a person’s absorption of B12 from foods, such as pernicious anaemia.
If vitamin B12 deficiency is diagnosed early it can be easily treated and complications can be avoided.
This makes spotting the symptoms of the condition very important.
One symptom experts say to recognise is tingling along the back of one or both thighs.
According to Thyroid Patient Advocacy (TPA), this can start at the hips and shoot downward.
It adds: “This starts out as more an annoyance than pain, but can develop into pain if not treated.”
The legs aren’t the only part of the body where you may experience tingling.
TPA explains: “This occurs suddenly and for no apparent reason in a spot directly below the ring finger, approximately where the first palm crease is.
“If B12 deficiency is not treated, a tingling pain may begin to occur along the outside edge of the hand, starting from the wrist. This pain occurs when the wrist is flexed backward.”
Tingling in the body occurs because vitamin B12 deficiency can affect the nerves. This is called vitamin B12 neuropathy.
Vitamin B12 neuropathy can also cause confusion, depression, poor concentration and forgetfulness.
Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
Bupa lists other signs to watch out for:
- Feeling very tired
- Breathlessness even after little exercise
- Heart palpitations
- A reduced appetite
- A sore mouth and tongue
The health organisation adds: “If you have vitamin B12 deficiency you may also look pale or jaundiced (have a yellowy tinge to your skin and the whites of your eyes).”
It’s important to note these symptoms aren’t always due to vitamin B12 deficiency, but if you experience them you should still see your GP.
Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency
If a person isn’t getting enough vitamin B12 from their diet they may be advised by a GP to eat more foods fortified with vitamin B12 or to take regular supplements. One such food is the B12 Blast juice shot from Plenish, which containts 100 per cent RDA of B12. The shots are made using organic produce, and cold-pressed then presevered using high pressure instead of heat to retain more nutrients.
Vitamin B12 injections may also be recommended, and for those with pernicious anaemia, injections may be required for the rest of their lives.
Experts say adults aged 19 to 64 require around 1.5 micrograms (mg) a day of vitamin B12, and unless you have pernicious anaemia, you should be able to get this through your diet.
If vitamin B12 deficiency is triggered by not including enough B12 foods in the diet, Harvard Health Publishing, part of Harvard Medical School, offers the “A list of B12 foods” on its website.