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Vitamin deficiency: Three ‘crucial’ signs of a B12 deficiency when you go to the toilet

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

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According to an expert there are three important signs when you go to the toilet that indicate you need more B12. Registered nutritionist consultant at Nutrigums, Shona Wilkinson, said people with B12 deficiencies could regularly have problems with constipation, gas and diarrhoea. Speaking to, she said: “As the parts of the digestive system rely on B vitamins such as the intestines, colon and rectum, there are a few crucial signs to look for.

“A vitamin B12 deficiency can have an impact on tiredness and fatigue, vision and muscle weakness however these are the three signs to look out for when visiting the toilet.

“Frequent trouble with constipation, gas and diarrhoea can sometimes indicate a lack of vitamin B12.

“In addition, signs that your digestive tract is disrupted with symptoms such as a bloated stomach or feeling sick can also be an indication.

“Although these are not indicators alone, when combined it might be worth going to see an expert.”

She explained more about why B12 is so important to our bodies.

“Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that it can be washed out and is not easily stored,” she added.

“It can naturally be found in some foods and added into others.

“Vitamin B12 is involved in many vital processes within the body from producing red blood cells, releasing energy from food, and keeping the nervous system healthy.

“The vitamin also plays a vital role in creating DNA and RNA, the foundations of every cell in the body.”

People who don’t eat as much protein could be at greater risk of developing a deficiency.

“Vitamin B12 is naturally found in a lot of high-protein foods such as meat, eggs and fish,” she said.

“Therefore, those with a vegan or vegetarian diet are recommended to take them in fortified foods or supplements.”

B12 deficiency can cause:

  • A pale yellow tinge to your skin
  • A sore and red tongue (glossitis)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
  • Changes in the way that you walk and move around
  • Disturbed vision
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Changes in the way you think, feel and behave
  • A decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement.

The NHS warns to see a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.

“It’s important for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible,” it says.

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

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

Foods high in B12 include meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals.

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