Vitamin B12 is vital for our bodies to function. One of its main jobs is to help form red blood cells, which are needed to transport oxygen around the body. Therefore, a deficiency in B12 can lead to a type of anaemia and some serious side effects.
“Her chief complaint was difficulty in eating certain types of food (mainly banana and tomato) because of a burning sensation and the presence of red stains on the inside of her cheeks and on her tongue,” the case study said.
“She had been a strict vegetarian for two and a half years and had not consumed milk, cheese, fish, meat or eggs during that time. She was not taking any medication.
“The current symptoms had been present for more than a year.”
Red patches in the mouth could be the result of glossitis, a common B12 deficiency symptom.
The oral lesions started to diminish within one week and after two weeks they had “completely disappeared” along with all other symptoms.
General symptoms of anaemia, which can be caused by a lack of B12 are:
- 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.
The NHS lists specific symptoms of a B12 deficiency as:
- A pale yellow tinge to your skin
- A sore and red tongue (glossitis)
- Mouth ulcers
- Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
- Changes in the way that you walk and move around
- Disturbed vision
- Changes in the way you think, feel and behave
- A decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement.
Foods rich in B12 include meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, yeast extract like Marmite and some fortified cereals.