Vitamin B12 deficiency: Low levels can cause burning feet – and it can be permanent

Dr Oscar Duke issues warning over ‘fizzy’ vitamins

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One symptom of a B12 deficiency is burning feet.

The Mayo Clinic describes burning feet as “a sign of nerve damage” and lists a deficiency in B vitamins as a potential cause.

Other symptoms of a B12 deficiency include:
• Fatigue
• Lack of energy
• Breathlessness
• Feeling faint
• Headaches
• Pale skin
• Heart palpitations
• Tinnitus
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss.

As well as causing a range of symptoms, an undiagnosed B12 deficiency can result in permanent complications if left untreated.

These complications range from neurological changes to infertility, from stomach cancer to spina bifida in unborn children.

Subsequently, it is essential a B12 deficiency is treated as soon as possible after it has been identified and diagnosed.

Fortunately, there are a range of treatments available to help remedy a b12 deficiency.

The primary treatment option is for vitamin B12 to be injected directly into the body.

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

After this initial period, your treatment will depend on whether the cause of your vitamin B12 deficiency is related to your diet or whether the deficiency is causing any neurological problems, such as problems with thinking, memory, and behaviour.”

Alternatively, dietary changes may be recommended to boost vitamin 12 levels.

Foods high in vitamin B12 include meat, salmon, cod, milk, and eggs.

For vegans and vegetarians, the NHS advise the consumption of “other foods that contain B12, such as yeast extract (including Marmite), as well as some fortified breakfast cereals and soy products”.

As well as treating the deficiency, the GP treating a patient will also try to look at what has caused the deficiency to arise.

In the UK the most common cause is a condition known as pernicious anaemia.

Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune condition affecting the stomach; it causes the immune system to attack the cells in the stomach preventing the organ from absorbing vitamin B12.

The exact cause of pernicious anaemia is not known; however doctors are aware of several risk factors likely to increase an individual’s risk of inheriting the condition.

Those at greater risk are women over the age of 60 with a family history of pernicious anaemia.

More information on pernicious anaemia is available on the NHS website.

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