Vitamin B12 is used by the body to make red blood cells, according to the NHS. It’s also used to produce DNA, and to keep the nervous system healthy, it said. You could have a vitamin B12 deficiency if you’re constantly having headaches, lose your appetite, or if you’re always feeling tired. But, you could also be at risk of the condition if you have a persistently itchy tongue, it’s been revealed.
A tingling or itchy tongue may be the earliest warning sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency, according to charity Patient Thyroid Advocacy.
The itchiness is most likely to affect the outside edges of the tongue, or at the tip.
The symptom may even develop into a stinging pain, or tingling instead of itchiness.
“If you have any unusual undiagnosed symptoms, perhaps you should consider whether you have a vitamin B12 deficiency,” said the charity.
“B12 deficiency sometimes goes undiagnosed until the symptoms become moderate to severe, although this is not necessarily the fault of the medical profession.
“Itchy or tingling tongue – the tongue suddenly itches from time to time without warning.
“This occurs on the edge of the tongue, along one side or the other or at the tip.
“There is an irresistible urge to scratch the tongue on the teeth to stop the itching. Some individuals experience stinging, pain, or tingling instead of itching.”
You could also be at risk of the deficiency if you notice small, white spots on your skin.
The pots are more likely to occur on the outside of the forearm, but could also develop in other places, it added.
They’re likely caused by an absence of melatonin in the affected area, which is linked to a vitamin B12 deficiency, it said.
A vitamin B12 deficiency could be caused by pernicious anaemia – a condition that’s caused by the body’s immune system attacking healthy stomach cells.
Diagnosing the condition early is crucial, as it can lead to heart conditions and temporary infertility on rare occasions.
But you could boost the amount of vitamin B12 in your diet by eating more beef, liver, dairy foods, eggs, or salmon.
You should still speak to a GP if you’re worried about the signs or symptoms of a deficiency, however.
Most cases can be easily treated with vitamin B12 supplements and diet changes.