Vitamin B12 deficiency: The ‘strange sensation’ that may be an urgent warning symptom

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Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient which, along with keeping your blood and nerve cells health, also helps to make DNA. However, when people do not get enough of this nutrient, they can develop what is known as “deficiency anaemia”.

There are many symptoms of having deficiency anaemia, impacting everything from your energy levels to your mouth.

However, according to experts from Harvard Health, one symptom people may not be aware of is described as a “strange sensation”.

Based on a case study, Harvard Health explains how a lack of vitamin B12 in the blood can lead to “numbness and a ‘pins and needles’ sensation in the hands”.

The old man, who the case study is based on, also experienced “trouble walking, experienced severe joint pain, began turning yellow, and became progressively short of breath”.

The cause was lack of vitamin B12 in his bloodstream, according to a case report from Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

This unusual feeling is backed up by the NHS, which lists “pins and needles” or “paraesthesia” among its list of symptoms of deficiency anaemia.

The reason why this happens is due to Vitamin B12’s essential role in keeping the nervous system healthy.

According to Medical News Today, the absence of vitamin B12 can “cause people to develop nerve conduction problems or nerve damage.”

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It continues: “In the nervous system, vitamin B12 helps produce a substance called myelin.

“Myelin is a protective coating that shields the nerves and helps them transmit sensations.

“People who are vitamin B12 deficient may not produce enough myelin to coat their nerves. Without this coating, nerves can become damaged.

“Problems are more common in the nerves in the hands and feet, which are called peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerve damage may lead to tingling in these parts of the body.”

How can you find out if you are deficient in vitamin B12?

The best way to find out whether or not you have a vitamin deficiency is by visiting your GP.

The NHS states: “These conditions can often be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the results of a blood test.”

The health service also warns that people who suspect they may have a deficiency go to their doctor “as soon as possible”.

The NHS explains: “This is because although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible.”

How is a vitamin B12 deficiency treated?

Most vitamin deficiencies tend to be mild and therefore can be easily treated with vitamin tablets or injections.

Under NHS treatment, vitamin B12 supplements are usually given by injection at first.

Depending on whether your vitamin B12 deficiency is due to your diet, you may later be required to take tablets between meals or have regular injections.

For some people, these treatments may be necessary for the rest of their life.

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