Vitamin B12 is required by the body to make red blood cells, according to the NHS. Red blood cells are used to deliver oxygen to various parts of the body, but the vitamin could also help to produce DNA. You may be at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency if you develop sudden aches or pains, or even if you feel tired all of the time. But having a swollen tongue should also never be ignored. Could you have a vitamin B12 deficiency?
An inflamed tongue may be an early warning sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency, according to registered dietitian Helen West.
The condition, which is also known as glossies, can develop very quickly and without warning.
As well as swelling, the tongue may appear more red than normal, and could be tender to the touch.
“Unfortunately, symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to show up, and diagnosing it can be complex,” said West, writing on medical website Healthline.
“An early sign of B12 deficiency may be a red and swollen tongue. This condition is known as glossitis.
“Glossitis is a term used to describe an inflamed tongue. If you have glossitis, your tongue changes colour and shape, making it painful, red and swollen.
“The inflammation can also make your tongue look smooth, as all the tiny bumps on your tongue that contain your taste buds stretch out and disappear.
“As well as being painful, glossitis can change the way you eat and speak.”
Other than a swollen tongue, people with a vitamin B12 deficiency could also develop mouth ulcers, or a feeling of pins and needles on the tongue.
You could also be at risk of the condition if you find it more difficult to walk or move about.
That’s because vitamin B12 may also play a role in maintaining your balance and coordination, she added.
Other, more common warning signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency include tiredness, jaundice, and feeling dizzy.
You should speak to a doctor if you’re worried about vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.
But you can top up on the vitamin by eating certain foods. The best sources of vitamin B12 include beef, liver, dairy foods, eggs, and salmon.
A vitamin B12 deficiency could be caused by pernicious anaemia – a condition that’s caused by the body’s immune system attacking healthy stomach cells.
Diagnosing the condition early is crucial, as it can lead to heart conditions and temporary infertility on rare occasions.