Vitamin deficiency anaemia: ‘Personality changes’ can be subtle at first but may increase

Dr Oscar Duke issues warning over ‘fizzy’ vitamins

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The Mayo Clinic says vitamin deficiency anaemia is a lack of healthy red blood cells caused by lower than usual amounts of vitamin B12 and folate. The organisation explains: “This can happen if you don’t eat enough foods containing vitamin B12 and folate, or if your body has trouble absorbing or processing these vitamins.” Personality changes are possible if this occurs.

The Mayo Clinic adds vitamin deficiency anaemia usually develops slowly over several months to years.The health body notes that signs and symptoms may be subtle at first but usually increase as the deficiency worsens. It says these may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Weight loss
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Unsteady movements
  • Mental confusion or forgetfulness.

The National Library of Medicine says deficiency of vitamin B12 can result in “haematological changes, neurological and psychiatric problems, which can manifest as irritability, changes in personality, depression, and memory loss”.

“It is also known to worsen depression by excitotoxic reactions caused by the accumulation of homocysteine,” it explains.

The NHS says you may experience changes in the way you think, feel and behave.

The health body warns: “It’s important for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

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

”The NHS says those aged 19 to 64 need about 1.5 micrograms a day of vitamin B12.

The health body explains if you eat meat, fish or dairy foods, you should be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet.

It says taking 2.0 micrograms or less a day of vitamin B12 in supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.

The Mayo Clinic says vitamin B12 plays an essential role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function and the production of DNA.

Although a vitamin B12 deficiency is something which can be dangerous, people should be careful not to take too many supplements.

The Mayo Clinic states: “Most people get enough vitamin B12 from a balanced diet. “However, older adults, vegetarians, vegans and people who have conditions that affect their ability to absorb vitamin B12 from foods might benefit from the use of oral supplements.”

The health body adds vitamin B12 supplements are also sometimes recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding exclusively and follow vegetarian or vegan diets.

The Mayo Clinic notes: “People who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet might be prone to deficiency because plant foods don’t contain vitamin B12.

“Older adults and people with digestive tract conditions that affect absorption of nutrients also are susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency.”

Both vitamin B12 deficiency and folate deficiency are more common in older people, affecting around one in 10 people aged 75 or over and one in 20 people aged 65 to 74, says the NHS.

The health body warns: “Taking doses of folic acid higher than 1mg can mask the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, which can eventually damage the nervous system if it’s not spotted and treated.”

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