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Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms: Muscle twitches could signal lack of the vital vitamin


Vitamin B12 deficiency, if left untreated, can cause complications, such as vision problems, infertility and increased cardiovascular disease risk. But if the condition is caught early enough it can be easily treated.

According to a study in Neurology International published in August 2014, different vitamin deficiencies, including vitamin B12 deficiency, can cause muscle twitching.

But it’s also important to note twitches are common and rarely a sign of anything serious.

They usually go away on their own, but if a twitch lasts more than two weeks, speak to your GP.

Twitches are most often linked to stress and anxiety, tiredness and exhaustion, drinking caffeine or alcohol, and some medicines.

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Getting plenty of rest and stretching and massaging any muscles affected by cramps can help stop a twitch.

The NHS lists other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency to look out for:

  • A pale yellow tinge to your skin
  • A sore and red tongue (glossitis)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
  • Changes in the way that you walk and move around
  • Disturbed vision
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Changes in the way you think, feel and behave
  • A decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and Judgement (dementia)

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If you experience these symptoms, see a GP. The health body explains: “[Vitamin B12 deficiency] 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.

“Although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible if left untreated.

“The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the chance of permanent damage.”

Vitamin B12 deficiency is usually treated with injections of vitamin B12.

There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:

  • hydroxocobalamin
  • cyanocobalamin

Hydroxocobalamin is usually the recommended option as it stays in the body for longer.

At first, you’ll have these injections every other day for two weeks or until your symptoms have started improving.

If your vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by a lack of B12 in your diet, you may be prescribed vitamin B12 tablets to take every day between meals.

The NHS advises: “People who find it difficult to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets, such as those following a vegan diet, may need vitamin B12 tablets for life.

“Although it’s less common, people with vitamin B12 deficiency caused by a prolonged poor diet may be advised to stop taking the tablets once their vitamin B12 levels have returned to normal and their diet has improved.”

Good sources of B12 include:

  • Meat
  • Salmon and cod
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Eggs

For vegetarians and vegans there are other foods that contain B12 such as yeast extract as well as some fortified breakfast cereals. 





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