Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function and the production of DNA. Due to its impact on these vital bodily processes, lacking the vitamin can cause a number of physical and neurological symptoms. One warning sign to watch out for is a metallic taste in your mouth.
As celebrity doctor Dr Andrew Weil explains, a metallic taste in the mouth can be attributed to a number of causes.
If you experience the symptom in isolation, however, it is unlikely to be the result of serious disease, he said.
It most likely to signify a deficiency of vitamin B12, D or zinc, noted Dr Weil.
READ MORE: Vitamin D deficiency symptoms: Experiencing this feeling is a warning sign
Vitamin B12: A metallic taste in your mouth may signal you are lacking the vitamin
“You might consider visiting your dentist, because the funny metallic taste in your mouth could be a symptom of gum disease,” he added.
According to the Thyroid Patient Advocacy (TPA), you may experience a number of other symptoms associated with the mouth if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
An itchy or tingling tongue may signal you are lacking the vitamin, the TPA explained: “The tongue suddenly itches from time to time without warning. This occurs on the edge of the tongue, along one side or the other or at the tip.”
You may also experience an irresistible urge to scratch the tongue on the teeth to stop the itching and some individuals experience stinging, pain, or tingling instead of itching, says the health body.
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Another symptom associated with the mouth is sores at the corners of the mouth, sometimes extending along the edge of the lip, says the health site.
It added: “These are raw spots, not blisters, and they tend to come and go.”
Other symptoms associated with a vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- A pale yellow tinge to your skin
- Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
- Changes in the way that you walk and move around
- Disturbed vision
- Changes in the way you think, feel and behave
- A decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement (dementia)
According to the NHS, you should see a GP if you think you may have a vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency: Mouth sores may also signify you are lacking the vitamin
These conditions can often be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the results of a blood test.
It’s important for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, warns the health body.
This is because although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible.
How to treat a vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia is usually treated with injections of vitamin B12.
There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:
If your vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by a lack of the vitamin in your diet, you may be prescribed vitamin B12 tablets to take every day between meals, says the NHS.
Vitamin B12 can also be found in a number of foods.
Good sources of vitamin B12 include:
- Salmon and cod
- Milk and other dairy products
According to the NHS, 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, such as yeast extract (including Marmite), as well as some fortified breakfast cereals and soy products.