Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that the body absorbs through eating certain foods but certain conditions hinder the body’s ability to absorb the nutrient, which can lead to a deficiency. Pernicious anaemia is a common underlying cause of a B12 deficiency and a certain symptom associated with the legs and feet may signal you have it.
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells.
Vitamin B12 is naturally absorbed by eating certain foods. Including B12-rich foods in your diet is therefore key to warding off the threat of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
A protein made by the stomach called intrinsic factor is needed to absorb vitamin B12 from food, however, certain underlying conditions impede this process.
Pernicious anaemia is the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK.
There are a number of symptoms that signal a vitamin B12 deficiency caused by pernicious anaemia.
One key warning sign is burning legs or feet, according to the Pernicious Anaemia society.
Other symptoms of pernicious anaemia include:
- Balance Problems
- Dizziness/Feeling Faint
- Numbness/Tingling/Pins and Needles
- Burning Legs and/or Feet
- Neuropathic Pain/Fibromyalgia
- Sensory Impairment
Other underlying causes of a vitamin B12 deficiency
Some may simply develop a vitamin B12 deficiency as a result of not getting enough vitamin B12 from their diet.
As the NHS explains, a diet that includes meat, fish and dairy products usually provides enough vitamin B12, but people who do not regularly eat these foods, such as those following a vegan diet or who have a generally very poor diet, can become deficient.
The underlying cause may be hard to identify initially because stores of vitamin B12 in the body can last around two to four years without being replenished, so it can take a long time for any problems to develop after a dietary change, notes the health site.