Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an important water-soluble vitamin best gained from certain foods (mainly foods sourced from animals). It plays an essential role in the production of the red blood cells and DNA in the body and also helps keep proper functioning of the nervous system. Vegans and vegetarians who may lack the vitamin in their diet, and people with certain medical conditions who struggle to absorb the vitamin from food, are at risk of B12 deficiency. If you experience any of the following two signs on your face you could have the condition.
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Facial pain is one warning sign of low levels of B12 to look out for in the face, according to The Thyroid Patient Advocacy.
It continued: “The pain is usually felt on only one side of the face at a time.
“This pain varies so much that it would be difficult to describe all the possibilities.
“It can be a dull pain in the cheek bone right underneath an eye.
“It can also be a sharp shooting pain across the forehead, sometimes coming downward from the scalp to the edge of the nose by the eye.
“This can be excruciating but is usually fleeting.”
Those lacking B12 may also notice the colour of their face is more yellow.
The whites of the eyes may also appear less white and more yellow.
The reason for this colour change in the face is due to the body’s red blood cell production being affected.
When the body lacks B12, it is not able to make red blood cells as easy.
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Vitamin B12 is a nutrient found in fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and milk products including haddock, beef, chicken and yoghurt.
When a person has autoimmune atrophic gastritis, the body mistakenly attacks healthy stomach cells including a protein known as intrinsic factor.
Intrinsic factor is responsible for helping the body absorb vitamin B12 by binding with the vitamin.
However, when stomach cells are attacked, intrinsic factor may not be created, meaning it can’t bind to vitamin B12, resulting in the nutrient being excreted from the body.
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A blood test which is done at a GP’s clinic will determine whether or not you may be deficient in vitamin B12.
The doctor will also want to discuss symptoms and look at your medical history to help form a proper diagnosis.
B12 injections may be offered or oral supplements could be prescribed to help treat the nutrient deficiency.
Treatment may for a few weeks, months, or lifelong, depending on the underlying reason as to why you may be deficient in the first place.
Different types of blood tests can be arranged by your GP to help diagnose a B12 deficiency.
Blood tests can measure the levels of vitamin B12 in the blood, as well as the levels of folate and to check if red blood cells are larger than normal.
A limitation of blood tests, however, is that it measures the total amount of vitamin B12 in the blood regardless if it can or can’t be used by the body.
This is why if you experience facial pain or notice a more yellow tinge on your face or any other symptoms of a B12 deficiency you should see your GP for a correct diagnosis.
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