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Vitamin B12 deficiency

02 November 2016
Volume 24 · Issue 11


Midwives are used to advising women on potential health risks and nutrient deficiencies, but Samantha Nash argues that it is also important to consider one's own health.

Vitamin B12 is, to put it simply, ‘essential for life’ (Kenny and Tidy, 2016). Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in symptoms of fatigue, poor memory, pins and needles, mental health issues, difficulty conceiving, mobility and balance problems, and a plethora of haematological and neuropsychiatric problems (Lindenbaum et al, 1988; Hector and Burton, 1988; Savage and Lindenbaum, 1995; Bennett, 2001; Pacholok and Stuart, 2011; Sahoo et al, 2011; National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2015a; NHS Choices, 2016; Singh, 2016).

Prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency has proven difficult to ascertain owing to the poor quality of available data. In the UK, a conservative estimate equates to approximately 6% of people under the age of 60 years, and closer to 20% for those aged 60 years and over (Hunt et al, 2014). Although the data available are of limited quality, the World Health Organization (2016) acknowledges that vitamin B12 deficiency could be a serious public health problem, potentially affecting millions worldwide.

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