This Morning: Guest reveals symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

Your mouth could be one of the first areas to alert you to “sneaky” and “harmful vitamin deficiency. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin naturally occurring in some foods or available as a supplement. 

From looking after the function of the central nervous system to keeping your blood cells healthy, the nutrient plays various important tasks in your body. The reason why the Harvard Medical School dubs B12 deficiency “harmful” comes down to how quickly you can develop serious symptoms.

To illustrate this description, the health body paints a startling picture of what can happen when you lack this vitamin. They penned: “Over the course of two months, a 62-year-old man developed numbness and a ‘pins and needles’ sensation in his hands, had trouble walking, experienced severe joint pain, began turning yellow, and became progressively short of breath.”

The Harvard Medical School added: “It could have been worse – a severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to deep depression, paranoia and delusions, memory loss, incontinence, loss of taste and smell, and more.” The symptoms of this vitamin deficiency are indeed varied.

One place where you can spot the warning signs is your mouth. Symptoms including glossitis, taste impairment and stomatitis could ring alarm bells, according to the British Medical Journal.

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1. Glossitis

Glossitis refers to inflammation of your tongue. This B12 deficiency symptom causes your tongue to swell and change its colour and texture.

Glossitis often presents with pain and tenderness. It can also make speaking, eating, or swallowing more difficult.

2. Taste impairment 

The first warning signs of vitamin B12 deficiency in the mouth – glossitis – may cause the small bumps on your tongue’s surface to disappear. These bumps contain thousands of tiny sensors called taste buds and play a role in how you eat.

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Therefore, this can lead to taste impairment. Some patients report losing their sense of taste completely while others only experience a reduced sense of taste.

3. Stomatitis

Stomatitis describes a sore or inflammation inside of the mouth. The sore can be located in your cheeks, gums, inside of your lips, or on the tongue. The stores are usually round or oval ulcers with a red, inflamed border. 

The centre tends to be white or yellow. Most sores like these tend to be small and oval, and heal within one to two weeks without scarring. Larger, irregular sores can occur with extensive injury and take six or more weeks to disappear. 

What to do once you identify B12 deficiency symptoms

If you experience any signs of vitamin B12 deficiency, the NHS advises to “see a GP”. The good news is that the condition can be picked up based on your symptoms and with a simple blood test.

The health body adds: “It’s important for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible if left untreated.

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

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