Tell-tale eye problem could be a big clue you have Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 is found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, yeast extract (such as Marmite) and fortified foods, according to the NHS.

But it is possible to develop a deficiency, especially if your diet does not include animal products. Experts said strict vegetarians and vegans may be at greater risk of infection.

Vitamin 12 deficiency is also associated with low levels of stomach acids that normally help release nutrients from proteins in foods. This decrease in acidity occurs as people get older.

Research has found that more than 30 percent of women and men over the age of 60 have little or no stomach acid. The problem also affects 40 percent of postmenopausal women.

Knowing when your vitamin B12 levels are too low is not always easy but there is one little-known sign around the eyes to look out for.

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Medical Daily reports: “Eye twitching and eyelid spasms are signs that can help identify vitamin B12 deficiency. In rare cases, damage to the optic nerve may occur that may lead to vision loss.”

Rapid twitching or rapid eyelid movement (either the upper or lower eyelid) is known as myokymia.

Eye twitching has also been linked to an imbalance of electrolytes, vitamin D, or magnesium.

A more forceful closing of the eyelid, in which a person is temporarily unable to open their eyes, is called blepharospasm.

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Vitamin B12 – also known as cobalamin – is necessary for many processes in the human body. This includes the production of red blood cells and for making the myelin sheaths that provide insulation for the “wires” of the nervous system.

The NHS lists the most common symptoms of a vitamin 12 deficiency as:

  • extreme tiredness
  • lack of energy
  • Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
  • sore and red tongue
  • mouth ulcer
  • muscle weakness
  • disturbed vision
  • Psychological problems that may include depression and confusion
  • Problems with memory, comprehension and judgment

Vitamin B12 pills are one way to help prevent deficiency especially if you follow a vegan diet and don’t get it from natural sources.

She says the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK is pernicious anemia – where your immune system attacks healthy cells in your stomach, preventing your body from absorbing vitamin B12 from the food you eat.

Additionally, a poor diet, casual diet, or vegan diet low in this vitamin can lead to a deficiency.

Third, some medications, including anticonvulsants and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), can affect how much of these vitamins your body absorbs.

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The NHS says vitamin B12 deficiency is more common in older adults, affecting about 1 in 10 people aged 75 or older and 1 in 20 people aged 65 to 74.

Most cases of vitamin B12 deficiency can be easily treated with injections or tablets to replace the lost vitamin.

Vitamin B12 supplements are usually given by injection initially. Then, depending on whether the vitamin B12 deficiency is related to your diet, you will need either B12 tablets between meals or regular injections.

The NHS has advised that these treatments may be necessary for the rest of your life.

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