Vitamin B12 deficiency: Three ‘early indications’ of central nervous system disturbance

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In older age, an acquired autoimmune disease prohibits the development of IF as stomach cells are attacked by the immune system. Consequently, vitamin B12 stores begin to deplete. Dr Colin Tidy confirmed the name of the autoimmune disease is pernicious anaemia – particularly more prevalent in people over the age of 60. During the earlier stages, signs of anaemia begin to emerge, such as fatigue, faintness, heart palpitations and headaches.

As vitamin B12 stores run on empty, neurological complications arise, such as:

  • Pins and needles
  • Numbness in limbs
  • Cognitive changes
  • Visual disturbances.

Dr Tidy noted: “Peripheral loss of vibratory sense and position are early indications of central nervous system (CNS) involvement.”

This may be accompanied by reflex loss and mild to moderate weakness.

“Later stages may be characterised by spasticity, Babinski’s responses and ataxia,” Dr Tidy added.


Experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine explained: “Spasticity is abnormal muscle tightness due to prolonged muscle contraction.”

Babinski’s responses

Medical News Today explained: “The Babinski reflex is one part of the neurological testing that doctors use to check for healthy development or underlying neurological conditions.”

The automatic reflex in the foot is tested by stroking the sole of the foot with a blunt object and assessing the response in the toes.

A doctor will check if the big toe moves upwards while the other toes fan outward.

Medical News Today elaborated: “The Babinski reflex is a marker for the health of the cortical spinal tract, which is a nerve channel sending information between the brain and the body and limbs.”

The Babinski reflex is seen in newborn babies, but it should be absent after 24 months of age.

Should this reflex appear in children and adults over the age of two, it is considered abnormal.


The NHS stated that ataxia is a term for a group of disorder that affect co-ordination, balance, and speech.

Dr Tiny added that other warning signs of a severe vitamin B12 deficiency include impairment of pain, temperature, and touch sensations.

Psychiatric conditions can develop, such as depression, paranoia, and delirium.

People can ask their doctor to arrange a blood test checking for vitamin B12 levels.

The more quickly a vitamin B12 deficiency is diagnosed and addressed, the less likely permanent damage will occur.

Furthermore, a medical overview can help determine what is the underlying cause of a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Should you be diagnosed with pernicious anaemia, intramuscular injections of vitamin B12 are likely to be administered.

The injections could be lifelong, but they are necessary to avoid complications from a vitamin B12 deficiency.

As shown, a very low supply of the vitamin can lead to lasting damage.

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