Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms: All EIGHT early symptoms of deficiency – full list

Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency

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Vitamin B12 is a vital ingredient for the healthy running of the body, as it’s needed to make red blood cells. But there are huge numbers of people that might not be getting enough vitamin B12. If you’re at risk of a deficiency, you could be showing any of eight early warning signs.

Vitamin B12 is used to help release energy from food, as well as help folate to make white blood cells.

Most people need about 1.5mcg of vitamin B12 every single day – and the body doesn’t naturally manufacture it.

That means huge numbers of people across the world have a vitamin B12 deficiency without even knowing it.

Signs of the condition can also take years to develop, which means you might struggle to notice the immediate symptoms.

However, there are some early signs you should be looking out for, according to nutritionist Dr Alan Stewart.

Patients often develop unexplained fatigue or weight loss.

You might also have a sore, swollen tongue. It could appear like your taste buds have disappeared because of the swelling.

A deficiency could even lead to difficulty walking, or a loss of feeling in your feet.

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“Deficiency of vitamin B12 is one of the commoner deficiencies encountered in general practice,” he wrote on his website.

“Mild vitamin B12 deficiency develops often without anaemia but with fatigue and other symptoms.

“Early symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, weight loss, a sore painful tongue, poor concentration, mood change, loss of sensation in the feet, loss of balance when the eyes are closed or in the dark and difficulty walking.

“Nowadays regular use of specialised oral supplements or injections of vitamin B12 will treat or prevent deficiency completely.”

Early symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency


Weight loss

Sore, painful tongue

Poor concentration

Mood change

Loss of sensation in the feet

Loss of balance when the eyes are closed

Difficulty walking

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

The condition can usually be diagnosed based on symptoms, but it might also require a blood test.

You could top up on B12 by simply eating more meat, salmon, eggs, or dairy products.

Vegetarians or vegans might want to consider taking vitamin B12 supplements to avoid a deficiency.

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