Vitamin B12: Four behavioural changes that could signal the ‘harmful’ deficiency

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Vitamin B12 deficiency, also known as folate deficiency anaemia, can cause a variety of symptoms. Warning signs can develop quickly and be “harmful”. Here are the ones that can affect how you behave.

Vitamin B12 deficiency affects around six percent of people aged below 60 in the UK.

However, this statistic rises to 20 percent with age.

The NHS reports that the symptoms of this deficiency can develop gradually.

But if you leave them untreated, the symptoms of the “harmful” deficiency become worse, as titled by the Harvard Medical School.

Being deficient in this vitamin can lead to various health problems, such as folate deficiency anaemia.

Anaemia is a term for condition in which you have less red blood cells than normal, or you have a low amount of haemoglobin.

Haemoglobin is a substance that carries oxygen and it is found in your red blood cells.

The NHS reports that when you develop this anaemia you can experience changes in your behaviour.

These warning changes include:

  • Irritability
  • Changes in the way you think, feel and behave
  • Decline in your judgement
  • Depression.

The health service adds that some of these signs might occur even if you have the deficiency but haven’t developed anaemia.

One reason why this happens could be because B12 deficiencies trigger symptoms in the nervous system and red blood cells, Psychology Today explains.

Plus, vitamin B12 has a part in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions, the Mayo Clinic explains. 

For example, some evidence links it to depression.

Research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reviewed studies looking into depression and the nutrient.

They noticed that lower levels of vitamin B12 correlate with an increase in depression.

They also noted that taking supplements of B12 might be beneficial for those with depression.

However, more research is needed to fully understand the connection.

Because of its various tasks in the body, Psychology Today warns that it is “critical” to spot vitamin B12 deficiency early in order to prevent permanent damage to the nervous system.

The NHS adds that many symptoms can be improved with treatment but some could be irreversible if left untreated.


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