The human body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA and to carry out other functions in the body. Some people do not consume enough vitamin B12 to meet their needs, while others can’t absorb enough of the vitamin, no matter how much they take in. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older people.
A lack of B12 can lead to less red blood cells being made and can lead to nerve damage.
If the condition is left untreated for a long time, it could put a person at risk of heart problems.
To avoid complications it’s important to recognise all the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, and one to be wary of is a change in breathing.
Other symptoms of a B12 deficiency
If a person has a vitamin B12 deficiency, they could become anaemic.
A mild deficiency may cause no symptoms, however, if left untreated, it amy lead to symptoms such as weakness, tiredness or lightheadedness, heart palpitations, pale skin, a smooth tongue, constipation, nerve problems, vision loss or mental problems like depression or memory loss.
How to treat a deficiency?
If a person has pernicious anaemia or has trouble absorbing vitamin B12 they will need shots of the vitamin first.
They may need to keep getting these shots, take high doses of a supplement by mouth, or may need to get injections.
Increasing foods such as eggs, milk, poultry and fish will also help with a B12 deficiency. Sometimes a vitamin B12 supplement may be needed too.