This Morning: Guest reveals symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
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Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble compound vital for the maintenance of a healthy nervous system and the formation of red blood cells. Deficiency is common, with those who follow a plant-based diet at greater risk. One peculiar sensation in the hands may signal that levels of B12 have been low for a long time, inflicting damage to the nervous system.
Peripheral neuropathy is the result of damage to the nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord.
It may cause altered sensations among a number of other blatant signs, such as clumsiness.
The NHS explains that the condition develops “when the nerves in the body’s extremities, such as the hands, feet and arms, are damaged”.
“In the UK, it’s estimated almost one in 10 people aged 55 or over are affected by peripheral neuropathy,” adds the health body.
READ MORE: Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms: Three physical warning signs you can see
People whose nerves incur damage may endure debilitating pain that fails to respond to conventional over-the-counter painkillers.
When the condition becomes advanced, even the mere feeling of a breeze can become excruciating.
It is often when signs of peripheral neuropathy arise that patients seek medical help. At this point, however, the damage is often too advanced and cannot be fixed.
Because the symptoms are often present in the extremities of the body, which are areas typically covered by gloves or stocking, neuropathy is often desired as having a “glove and stocking” distribution of symptoms.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH), explains: “Damage to large sensory fibres harms the ability to feel vibrations and touch, especially in the hands and feet.
“You may feel as if you are wearing gloves and stockings even when you are not.”
When this feeling is present in the feet it can sometimes extend to the knee.
“This damage may contribute to the loss of reflexes,” adds the NIH.
A loss of feeling often leaves people unable to coordinate complex movements, such as walking or fastening buttons, or maintaining balance when they shut their eyes.
The symptoms are often symmetrical and involve the areas covered by gloves.
Other sensations patients may experience in these parts of the body include tingling, numbness, unusual sensations, weakness or burning pain.
Authors have claimed that peripheral neuropathy induced by vitamin B12 deficiency can be reversed completely with substitutive treatment.
The vitamin is not synthesised in the body, and can therefore only be acquired in meat, eggs, and some synthesised microorganisms.
B12 lacks a reliable plant source, which means vegetarians and vegans are sometimes prescribed B12 supplementation.
The deficiency is particularly common among older individuals, whose bodies may lose the ability to absorb B12.
In fact, many people put the symptoms of B12 deficiency down to increasing age and chose not to seek medical help as a result.
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