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B12 deficiency symptoms: The sign in your nails warning that levels are low

The prevalence of B12 deficiency in the UK is one in 10 people aged over 75. This highlights the need for better awareness of the early signs, as long-term deficiency can lead to a plethora of health issues, including serious heart and neurological problems.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can develop slowly in some individuals, but as the condition worsens, signs may become more apparent.

Typically, individuals experience fatigue, fitness, headaches, pale skin, loss of appetite, weight loss, and a red tongue.

According to the Wound Care Learning Network, however, signs of low levels can also manifest in your nails.

The health body explains: “Nail plate discolouration can result from several nutritional deficiencies.

READ MORE: Vitamin overdose: Sensations felt in hands and feet warning you’ve had too much B vitamins

“Research has shown vitamin B12 to cause brown-grey nail discolouration.”

“White nails can be the results of anaemia and pink-red nails may suggest malnutrition with several nutrients and vitamin deficiencies.”

Having bluish-back nails is another sign that you’re lacking B12.

According to the UK government, adults need 1.5 micrograms of the vitamin per day.


The prevalence of vitamin deficiency is particularly rife among vegans, affecting around 11 percent of the plant-based population.

The prevalence of deficiency also rises with age, as the body loses its ability to absorb B12.

Other causes include surgery, which thwarts the body’s ability to take up the key nutrient.

Catherine Collins, from the British Dietetic Association, said: “There may be some people who fall within the normal range but need a little more B12, but I reject the idea that they need a lot more.”

It is the result of the immune system attacking the cells in the stomach that produce intrinsic factor, a protein secreted by cells of the stomach lining.

Intrinsic factor attaches to vitamin B12, and takes it to the intestines to be absorbed.

“People who eat a vegan diet and do not take vitamin B12 supplements or eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 are also at risk,” explains the NHS.

The treatment for B12 deficiency depends on the cause of the condition, but most people can easily be treated with injections of B12.

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