Vitamin B12 is needed by the body for two primary reasons, to produce red blood cells and to release energy from food. When someone lacks B12, they develop a deficiency. As with other medical conditions, this can cause several symptoms to arise. These symptoms can appear in a variety of places on the body and elicit a number of sensations.
According to a report by the BMJ (British Medical Journal) symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can appear on the nails.
In a report they write: “Nail changes in vitamin B12 deficiency present as hyperpigmentation of nails like bluish discolouration, blue black pigmentation with dark longitudinal streaks, and longitudinal and reticulate darkened streaks.”
They add: “The nail pigmentation associated with B12 deficiency is more frequent in patients with dark skin.
“Complications of a vitamin B12 deficiency may be prevented if the condition is recognised early and treatment is initiated.”
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In common with most medicinal problems, the sooner a vitamin B12 deficiency is treated, the lower the potential for complications.
Complications that can arise are:
• Heart failure
• Vision problems
• Memory loss
• Pins and needles
• Loss of physical co-ordination
• Peripheral neuropathy
• Stomach cancer
• Neural tube defects.
If some of the neurological issues develop the NHS says some of them could be “irreversible”.
However, if they are treated quickly and efficaciously the damage can be limited.
As a result, knowing the symptoms is essential.
General symptoms include jaundice, sore and red tongue, pins and needles, disturbed vision, irritability, depression.
It is important to note these feelings and sensations could also be symptoms of other conditions; so it is important to consult with a GP before coming to any conclusion.
The solution to a vitamin B12 deficiency is twofold, to inject it directly into the body and to increase levels through dietary means.
These injections are traditionally regular at first, before becoming less regular the longer the treatment continues.
Meanwhile, good sources of vitamin B12 in food are meat, salmon, cod, milk, and eggs.
Vegan or vegetarian patients are recommended to seek other foods that contain vitamin B12 such as marmite and some breakfast cereals.