Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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Vitamin B12 performs myriad functions in the body but some of the most important include making red blood cells and supporting a healthy nervous system. If you become deficient in B12, these processes become derailed and the symptoms can be wide-ranging. A case report details the way your face may betray low B12.
Writing in the BMJ, a doctor charted his possible symptoms.
The doc wrote: “There was a doctor who developed some neurological symptoms (intermittent numbness on the left side of the face, left hand or left knee) a few weeks after an episode of shingles affecting the left side of the body.
“He saw a specialist who decided to check his Serum B12 and Serum Folate levels.”
The results indicated that his B12 level was low and intrinsic factor antibodies were negative.
Intrinsic factor is a protein that combines with B12 in the stomach to absorb the vitamin.
However, the doc did not want to pursue the typical course of treatment for B12 deficiency owing to uncertainties around the principal cause of his symptoms.
It was recommended that the doctor start receiving intramuscular hydroxocobalamin injections.
“However, pharmacy topics and hospice the doctor did not want to receive intramuscular injections for the rest of his life,” the doc wrote.
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Hydroxocobalamin is one of the main treatments for B12 prescribed in the UK. It’s a shot of B12.
The doc was aware that many of his patients had low B12 levels which returned to normal without treatment.
It also seemed to him that his symptoms did not correspond to any of the B12 deficiency neurological syndromes.
In view of this he said that he did not want the hydroxocobalamin injections.
The doctor’s GP was very understanding and it was agreed not to treat, but to repeat the tests.
However, the doctor did agree to follow his wife’s advice to add a small amount of yeast extract on a slice of bread to his diet occasionally.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, or are looking for alternatives to meat and dairy products, yeast extract is a good source of B12.
The tests were repeated a few months after the original test. They showed the doc had normal B12 levels.
The doctor’s neurological symptoms have been investigated by another specialist who has not insisted on treatment for B12 (or Folate) deficiency.
“The symptoms have been improving despite no treatment for B12 deficiency or Folate deficiency,” the doc wrote at the time.
At the end of the article, the doc posed the question: “Are we overtreating patients with low B12 levels?”
According to the NHS, most people can be easily treated with injections or tablets to replace the missing vitamins.
“To ensure your treatment is working, you may need to have further blood tests.”
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