Vitamin B12 is essential for good health. The nutrient is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods and is added to some fortified foods. Vitamin B12 helps prevent a type of anaemia called megaloblastic anaemia that makes people tired and weak. When a person is suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency they may experience constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and anaemia. Nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur. When a person’s skin colour begins to look paler, this is also a symptom of being vitamin B12 deficient.
This colour change can also affect the lips, gums, and tongue. When a person appears pale, it may be because there is not enough oxygen-rich haemoglobin near the skin’s surface.
Haemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that transport oxygen, and several conditions can reduce haemoglobin levels.
Pale or yellow skin, called jaundice, may be a symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 plays a role in the production of red blood cells.
A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a lack of red blood cells, or anaemia, which has an association with jaundice.
This type of anaemia can also weaken the red blood cells, which the body then breaks down more quickly.
When the liver breaks down red blood cells, it releases bilirubin. Bilirubin is a brownish substance that gives the skin the yellowish tone.
The human body does not create vitamin B12 so nutrients from a diet are a essential with having adequate vitamin B12.
Foods such as red meat, poultry, eggs, dairy and fish. It a person does not eat animal products, they will need to add vegetarian and vegan sources of vitamin B12 dot their diet.
These include fortified cereals, plant milks, bread and nutritional yeast.
Having a vitamin B12 deficiency can also have a great impact on a person’s mood.
Symptoms such as irritability and depression have been noted.
The possible reason why the vitamin affects mental health could be because vitamin B12 helps break down a brain chemical called homocysteine and having too much of this chemical in the brain may cause mental health problems.
Doctor Marilyn Glevnville explained: “The B vitamins are essential for depression.
“They are involved with the production of neurotransmitters which control mood and behaviour.
“It’s required as co-enzyme in the production of serotonin.
“Many antidepressants are formulated to keep serotonin in the brain for longer so, if we have more of this brain chemical to start with, we have more chance of a better mental state.
“Also, low levels of both serum folate, a B12 vitamin, are associated with a greater risk of depression.”