Health

Vitamin B12 deficiency – the ‘prickling’ feeling that may be a sign of deficiency

Vitamin B12 is a crucial ingredient for the healthy running of the body, as it’s needed to make red blood cells. Signs of a deficiency can develop very slowly, so it may be difficult to diagnose the condition.

People with undiagnosed symptoms should consider that they may have a vitamin B12 deficiency.

While it’s unlikely that your symptoms are caused by the condition, there are still many people that have a lack of B12.

A quick blood test could reveal whether you should be adding more B12 to your diet.

You should consider speaking to a doctor about a B12 deficiency if you have an unusual feeling in your hands or feet.

Some patients develop a strange prickling sensation in their extremities, explained dietitian Helen West.

This feeling, which is often referred to as pins and needles, may be caused by nerve damage.

Nerve damage has been linked to a vitamin B12 deficiency, she said.

The vitamin is needed to produce the fatty substance myelin, which insulates the nerves.

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Without enough B12, this myelin isn’t produced entirely as it should be, which leads to the pins and needles.

“One of the more serious side effects of a long-term B12 deficiency is nerve damage,” West wrote for medical website Healthline.

“This can occur over time, as vitamin B12 is an important contributor to the metabolic pathway that produces the fatty substance myelin.

“One common sign of this happening is paresthesia, or the sensation of pins and needles, which is similar to a prickling sensation in your hands and feet.

“That said, sensations of pins and needles are a common symptom that can have many causes, so this symptom alone is not usually a sign of B12 deficiency.”

Pins and needles have also been described as a tingling or numb pain on the skin.

You may develop parasthesia in your arms, legs, feet or hands, added the NHS.

But you should still speak to a doctor if your pins and needles keep coming back, without any obvious explanation.

Some vitamin B12 deficiency patients have also reported difficulty walking, vision disturbances, and mouth ulcers.

You should speak to a doctor if you’re worried about vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.

But you can top up on the vitamin by eating certain foods.

The best sources of vitamin B12 include beef, liver, dairy foods, eggs, and salmon.

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