Vitamin B12 deficiency: Symptoms could include gastrointestinal issues including diarrhoea

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

B12 is crucial for making DNA and red blood cells, and it helps support the nervous system. Vitamin B12 deficiency may affect between 1.5 to 15 percent of people. This deficiency can cause a wide range of symptoms that affect a person’s mental and physical health and could be the cause for your gastrointestinal issues.

Severe vitamin B12 deficiency can cause neurological problems, such as confusion, dementia, depression, and memory loss, said the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The health site continued: “Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency involve the digestive tract.

“These symptoms include nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting, heartburn, abdominal bloating and gas, constipation or diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

“An enlarged liver is another symptom.”

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Vitamin B-12 deficiency can affect the digestive tract, said Medical News Today.

The site added: “A lack of red blood cells means that not enough oxygen reaches the gut.

“Insufficient oxygen here may lead to a person both feeling and being sick.

“It may also cause diarrhoea.”

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Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is present in animal-based foods, such as:

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Fish

You should see a GP if you’re experiencing symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some neurological problems caused by the condition can be irreversible if left untreated, the health body warns.

“The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the chance of permanent damage,” it adds.

B12 is mainly found in animal and dairy products, such as meat and milk.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan or are looking for alternatives to meat and dairy products, there are other foods that contain vitamin B12, however.

B12 can also be found in yeast extract (including Marmite), as well as some fortified breakfast cereals and soy products, explains the NHS.

“Check the nutrition labels while food shopping to see how much vitamin B12 different foods contain,” it advises.

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