Vitamin B12 deficiency that can lead to ‘memory loss’ – symptoms to look for

Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency

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Vitamin deficiencies aren’t uncommon, and even as the fear of wintertime Vitamin D deficiencies diminish in the spring, there are still some essential nutrients you should make sure you are getting. Vitamin B12 is a common deficiency, particularly in people over 65, according to the NHS.

When caught early enough, a deficiency can be treated easily and should not cause too many long-term symptoms.

However, if left untreated, patients can go on to develop more serious symptoms and side effects.

Speaking exclusively to, Alex Glover, a senior nutritionist at Holland & Barrett explained: “Deficiencies in vitamin B can result in all sorts of problems, from headaches and irritability to anaemia and fatigue.

“Rashes, regular bruising, slow-healing wounds, muscle weakness and tingling extremities are also signs that you’re lacking in vitamin B.

“It’s most common to be deficient in vitamin B12, with side effects including physical weakness, memory loss and more serious neurological issues like vision problems.”

According to MayoClinic, some studies suggest low vitamin B12 levels may be associated with an increased risk of dementia.

Despite this, supplementation with B vitamins has not been shown to improve brain function or symptoms of memory loss.

Regardless of its role in memory, though, vitamin B12 is a vital component of a healthy diet.

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Karl Kristian the founder and skincare expert of health and beauty brand New Nordic told “There are many different types of B vitamins which each have key benefits, but they can’t be directly made in the body.

“The main ones are B12 which makes red blood cells and regulates the nervous system, B6 which helps the body convert food into energy and also B1 and B2 which turn food into energy as well as supporting the nervous system, skin and eyes.

“B12 is essential as it can improve our mood and boost energy.”

Dr Angela Rai, a GP at the London General Practise, explained that while diet is a leading factor in deficiencies, it can impact older adults for a variety of reasons.

She told “Vitamin B12 is found in animal products, such as meat, eggs, and dairy products. Therefore, vegetarians or vegans are more likely to become deficient.

“Older adults may also absorb less B12, and certain medication can interfere with absorption of B12.”

What signs and symptoms should you be aware of?

A vitamin B12 deficiency can manifest itself in a variety of ways, depending on the person and the cause.

Speaking to, Dr Joshua Berkowitz, founder of IV Boost clinic said: “If you’re deficient in B12 you will feel fatigued, have a poor appetite and may experience low mood and depression.

“Your nervous system will also suffer – you may feel numbness or tingling in your hands or feet.

“It can be a serious problem and will need a GP to diagnose and recommend treatment.”

According to the NHS, if you are concerned you may be deficient in vitamin B12, you should see a GP as soon as possible.

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

“This is because although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible.”

How can you naturally get more vitamin B12 in your diet?

According to New Nordic’s Mr Kristian: “We can boost the levels of B vitamins in our body by eating foods such as whole grains, meats, cheese and leafy greens including cabbage and kale.

“Another way to help get the required B vitamins into your body is by taking a supplement like b-energy mega-strength.”

For those following a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are also a number of options.

Mr Glover added: “There are plenty of plant-based sources and B vitamin foods, including whole grains, legumes, potatoes, bananas, chillies and brewer’s yeast.

“Boosting your gut bacteria will also help you extract vitamin B from your food.”

However, he notes that for those who are frequently missing vitamin B-rich foods, “it’s worth considering taking a supplement”.

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