The impact vitamin B12 has on the body is extensive. Among other things, the vitamin underpins the central nervous system and helps form healthy red blood cells. Given its contribution, it is little wonder the body goes awry without it.
Some of the most acute symptoms are the result of low B12 dealing a hammer blow to the nervous system.
This is collectively known as vitamin B12 neuropathy.
According to Bupa, when low B12 starts impacting the nerves, it can cause confusion, depression, poor concentration and forgetfulness – symptoms that can “mimic dementia“.
“It may affect your movement and sensation, especially in your legs, cause numbness or pins and needles and decrease your sensitivity to touch, vibration or pain,” notes the health body.
What causes low B12?
B12 deficiency has two primary causes – pernicious anaemia and diet.
The former is the leading cause of B12 deficiency in the UK. If you have pernicious anaemia, your immune system attacks healthy cells in your stomach, preventing your body absorbing vitamin B12 from the food you eat.
Some people struggle to get enough B12 in their diet, namely strict vegans and vegetarians.
That’s because vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods, and manufacturers add it to some fortified foods, explains the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia (low red blood cell count) is usually treated with injections of vitamin B12.
There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:
“At first, you’ll have these injections every other day for two weeks or until your symptoms have started improving,” adds the NHS.