Vitamin B12 is responsible for the production of red blood cells and for keeping the nervous system healthy.
If the body doesn’t get enough B12, it leads to the production of abnormally large red blood cells.
These blood cells can’t function properly. The medical term for this is “megaloblastic anaemia”.
Vitamin B12 deficiency has many symptoms, one of which is headaches.
Headaches aren’t usually a sign of anything serious and in most cases will go away on their own.
However, if you experience them regularly, or also develop other vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, you could be lacking B12.
If you do experience vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, see a GP, as some problems can be permanent if left untreated.
“It’s important for vitamin B12 anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible,” said the NHS.
“Although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible if left untreated.”
“The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the chance of permanent damage.”
Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include extreme tiredness, lack of energy, a pale, yellow tinge to the skin, and pins and needles.
Mouth ulcers, a sore red tongue, muscle weakness and disturbed vision are also symptoms.
In addition, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause psychological problems and problems with memory, understanding and judgement.
Symptoms usually develop gradually, but can worsen if the condition goes untreated.
Although uncommon, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to problems with the nervous system, temporary infertility, heart conditions and pregnancy complications.
Some complications improve with appropriate treatment, but others – such as problems with the nervous system – can be permanent.
The most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is pernicious anaemia – an autoimmune condition that prevents the cells in the stomach from being able to absorb B12.
Some people can develop vitamin B12 deficiency as a result of not getting enough vitamin B12 from their diet.
Foods containing vitamin B12 include meat, salmon, cod, milk and other dairy products, eggs, yeast extract, fortified breakfast cereals and soy products.
Treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency includes injections of the vitamin and tablets.