Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, depression, pale or yellow skin, mental impairment, and pain and inflammation in the mouth and tongue. Food sources such as beef, chicken, liver, fish, low-fat milk or eggs help to top up levels but for those lacking B12 a number of changes may occur on your hands.
Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause “pins and needles” in the hands or feet.
This symptom occurs because the vitamin plays a crucial role in the nervous system, and its absence can cause people to develop nerve conduction problems or nerve damage.
A severe vitamin B12 deficiency may damage nerves, causing tingling or loss of sensation in the hands and feet, muscle weakness.
Sometimes the pins and needles or tingling sensation can appear as a sharp stabbing pain in the palm of one or both hands, says Thyroid Patient Advocacy.
It explains: “This occurs suddenly and for no apparent reason in a spot directly below the ring finger, approximately where the first palm crease is.
“If B12 deficiency is not treated, a tingling pain may begin to occur along the outside edge of the hand, starting from the wrist.
“This pain occurs when the wrist is flexed backward.”
A deficiency in vitamin B12 can result in entirely blue nails, bluish-black pigments with wavy longitudinal dark streaks and brownish pigmentation.
A deficiency in folate can cause a pigment change in your nails and make them rigid and brittle.
Altered cobalamin levels can lead to dermatological manifestations, which may indicate a deficiency or excess of this vitamin.
According to a study published in the Journal of Family Practice, changes in fingernails such as brittleness, discolouration and streaks warrant a B12 levels check.
Researchers state that such changes in the appearance of nails could be resolved with adequate B12 supplementation.
These issues typically arise as the red blood count falls, which prevents the tissues and organs from carrying out their job properly.
Another study published in BMJ, blue-black pigmentation and darkened streaks as an indicator for low B12 levels was investigated.
The study noted: “Nail changes in vitamin B12 deficiency present as hyperpigmentation of nails like bluish discolouration of nails, blue-black pigmentation with dark longitudinal streaks and longitudinal and reticulate darkened streaks.
“The nail pigmentation associated with B12 deficiency is more frequent in patients with dark skin.
“Complications of vitamin B12 may be prevented if the condition is recognised early and treatment is initiated.”
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