Vitamin B12 is important for our overall health but you may be getting less than you need without realising it. 

Vitamin B deficiency occurs when a lack of vitamin B12 or folate causes the body to produce abnormally large red blood cells that cannot function properly.

Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body using a substance called haemoglobin.

Anaemia is the general term for having either fewer red blood cells than normal or having an abnormally low amount of haemoglobin in each red blood cell.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency:

According to the NHS, Vitamin B12 and folate perform several important functions in the body, including keeping the nervous system healthy.

A deficiency in either of these vitamins can cause a wide range of problems, including:

  • extreme tiredness
  • a lack of energy
  • pins and needles
  • a sore and red tongue
  • mouth ulcers
  • muscle weakness
  • problems with your vision
  • psychological problems, which can range from mild depression or anxiety to confusion and dementia
  • problems with memory, understanding and judgement

Some of these problems can also happen if you have a deficiency in vitamin B12 or folate but do not have anaemia.

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When to see a GP

See a GP if you think you may have a vitamin B12 or folate deficiency.

These conditions can often be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the results of a blood test.

Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

This is because although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible.