‘Hallucinations’ and ‘delusions’ could signal a B12 deficiency

Doctor lists symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

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Vitamins and minerals are essential when it comes to keeping our bodies in working order. Without certain nutrients we can become deficient, leading to other health problems. A B12 deficiency is no exception.

Vitamin B12 can be sourced from lots of animal products including meat, fish and cheese.

It can also be found in some fortified cereals and yeast products such as Marmite.

B12 has several functions in the body including helping to make DNA and red blood cells.

Red blood cells are needed to carry oxygen around the body and without enough of them you can become anaemia.

For this reason, it is expected that a B12 deficiency would cause symptoms such as fatigue.

However, it is also known to cause neurological problems.

The NHS lists irritability, depression, changes in the way you think, feel and behave, and
a decline in your mental abilities as such problems.

And medical staff have reported multiple cases of psychosis linked to the deficiency.

This includes suffering from hallucinations and delusions – meaning a person sees, hears, smells, tastes or feels something that doesn’t exist.

A medical feature, published in the Annals of Long-Term Care, by doctors Samia Sabeen, and Suzanne Holroyd considers various cases of psychosis among B12 deficient patients.

It says: “Psychosis has been reported in B12 deficiency, including both hallucinations and delusions.

“Multiple case reports of both acute-onset and chronic psychosis in the setting of vitamin B12 deficiency have been reported.

“Evans et al reported two patients with psychosis in the absence of haematological or neurological symptoms.

“Along with resolution of psychosis, electroencephalography findings suggestive of cerebral dysfunction in these two patients were reversed with B12 replacement.

“With vitamin B12 supplementation, psychosis improved in two months, and there was also partial improvement of neurological symptoms.”

They reference separate reports.

“Two case reports discuss persecutory delusions and auditory hallucinations in patients with cervical vertebral disease (stenosis, spondylosis) that apparently misled the treating physicians in not initially exploring the possibility of vitamin B12 deficiency until the development of the psychosis.

“In both cases, there was resolution of psychotic symptoms with vitamin B12 replacement.”

If you believe you are low in B12 you should start by upping your intake of B12-rich foods.

But if this does not help, it is possible to take B12 supplements, and in serious cases your GP might recommend injections.

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