Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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Vitamin B12 is key for the management of the neurological and nervous systems, so when levels fall below optimal range, trouble is bound to arise. Permanent nerve damage and deterioration of brain functions are two of many complications linked to the deficiency. One sign that the condition is advanced may be noticeable when touching the face.
Symptoms related to low levels of B12 typically include weakness in the muscle, a number of tingling sensations in the hands and feet, trouble walking and decreased appetite.
Occasionally, however, a fever can also occur.
Nutritionist Helen West explained to Healthline: “Unfortunately, symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to show up, and diagnosis can be complex.
“A rare but occasional symptom of B12 deficiency is a high temperature.
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“It’s not clear why this occurs, but some doctors have reported cases of fever that has normalised after treatment with low levels of vitamins B12.”
Although fever may be a sign of low B12, it remains unlikely that the symptoms are caused by the condition.
More often than not, a fever is a sign that the body is trying to fight off an infection.
According to the NHS, anything categorised over 38 degrees Celsius is considered a high temperature.
According to Medical News Today explains: “Touching a person’s forehead with the back of the hand is a common method of telling whether or not they have a fever.
“If the person has a fever, their forehead may feel very hot. This can be inaccurate, but it may provide some general information.”
Alongside high temperature, people can experience other symptoms, such as sweating, or having warm, red skin.
One paper published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care added that a fever may be a sign of a B12 deficiency that has become severe.
The authors of the paper wrote: “Severe vitamin B12 deficiency may cause fever and if accompanied by concurrent hyper-homocysteinemia and hypophosphatemia can sometimes lead to severe hemolysis mimicking the above-mentioned conditions.”
Hyper-homocysteinemia is the name for the condition where there are low levels of homocysteine in the blood.
The condition can lead to wide-ranging diseases and can become an independent risk factor for more serious medical conditions.
Hypo-phosphatemia, on the other hand, occurs when phosphate levels fall within a suboptimal range. Phosphate is critical for a host of cellular processes.
How to avoid B12 deficiency
B12 is naturally present in foods of animal origin, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.
For those who follow a diet that excludes animal products, the nutrient can be sourced for fortified nutritional yeasts.
Supplements that contain only B12, or B12 with other B vitamins, are also widely available.
What’s more, individuals who are already severely deficient may be offered B12 injections at regular intervals.
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