Vitamin B12 is tasked with many important roles, such as keeping the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Lacking in the vitamin could create a condition known as pernicious anaemia and burning feet is a sign of this condition.
Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune disease that prevents the body from making intrinsic factors (a protein made by the stomach and needed to absorb vitamin B12 in the intestine).
It can be hard to tell B12 deficiency caused by pernicious anaemia apart from general B12 deficiency but there are some unique characteristics.
Some of the most pronounced symptoms are associated with neurological problems linked to pernicious anaemia.
According to the Pernicious Anaemia Society (PAS), one distinctive sign is burning feet, which is also known as Grierson-Gopalan Syndrome.
It happens when low levels of B12 damage nerves in the body’s extremities, such as feet.
Other B12 deficiency anaemia symptoms include:
· Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
· Lack of energy (lethargy)
· Feeling faint
· Pale skin
· Hearing sounds coming from inside the body, rather than from an outside source
· Loss of appetite and weight loss
See a GP if you’re experiencing symptoms of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia.
As the NHS explains, these conditions can often be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the results of a blood test.
“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,” explains the NHS.
B12 is naturally found in the following foods:
Salmon and cod
Milk and other dairy products
How much vitamin B12 is needed?
The answer depends on factors such as age, eating habits and medical conditions, and what medications one may be taking.
The average amounts measured in micrograms vary by age. Adults require at least 2.4 msg per day of vitamin B12.
If a person isn’t getting enough vitamin B12 from their diet they may be advised by a GP to eat more foods fortified with vitamin B12 or to take regular supplements.
Vitamin B12 injections may also be recommended, and for those with pernicious anaemia, injections may be required for the rest of their lives.
What complications can arise if a B12 deficiency goes untreated?
As the NHS explains, a long-term vitamin B12 deficiency can cause neurological problems, which affect your nervous system, such as:
Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
Loss of physical coordination (ataxia), which can affect your whole body and cause difficulty speaking or walking
Damage to parts of the nervous system (peripheral neuropathy), particularly in the legs
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