Anaemia, vitamin B12 or folate deficiency - Symptoms 

Symptoms of vitamin B12 or folate anaemia 

Symptoms of each type of anaemia vary depending on the underlying cause of the condition.

However, there are some general symptoms associated with all types of anaemia. These include:

  • fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • lethargy (lack of energy)
  • breathlessness (dyspnoea)
  • faintness 
  • headache
  • tinnitus (the perception of a noise in one or both ears, or inside your head, which comes from inside your body; for example, a ringing in your ears)
  • loss of appetite

Vitamin B12 deficiency

If you have anaemia caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, you may have symptoms listed above, as well as:

  • a yellow tinge to your skin
  • a sore and red tongue (glossitis)
  • ulcers inside your mouth
  • an altered or reduced sense of touch
  • a reduced ability to feel pain
  • a change in the way that you walk and move around
  • disturbed vision
  • irritability
  • depression – feelings of extreme sadness that last for a long time
  • psychosis – a condition that affects your mind and changes the way you think, feel and behave
  • dementia – a decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement

Folate deficiency

As well as general symptoms of anaemia, a folate deficiency may also cause:

  • loss of sensation, such as a reduced sense of touch or pain
  • muscle weakness
  • depression

Page last reviewed: 31/05/2012

Next review due: 31/05/2014

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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Jaffababe said on 24 October 2013

I'm exactly the same as manchestergirl, I smoke a little but drink a lot (again we know it's bad)! I have just had a blood test that says my B12 and folate levels are borderline low and although they didn't say the drink was causing it they did say it's not helping. They have recommended that I change my diet and reduce my alcohol intake; I work hard and tend to skip meals then I have a few drinks and therefore can't be bothered with food afterwards. I am usually very tired, I get tingling in my hands on a regular basis especially when I've just woken up and I have anxiety attacks. I take medication for high blood pressure and acid reflux, I have read that the acid reflux medication is also a possible cause of b12 deficiency. I have decided to join a local gym to try and keep me out of the pub after work I'm a social smoker so that should reduce if I'm not drinking and I'll be going home to make dinner!! I start today so I hope it helps I go back in around 5 months for another test to see if my lifestyle changes are working.

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manchestergirl said on 23 April 2013

Please help. I am 46 year old woman I have been diagnosed with enlarged red blood cells by GP and need to have B12 and folate and liver function test done. I do smoke and drink (I know bad) but GP seems to be airing towards the drink. My diet is rubbish (pizza late at night). I have been complaining of pain to my back and this is the reason I went to the GP. This could be kidney problem and this also being tested. I am somewhat worried. I am always cold, tired, suffer with depression and anxiety. I get very stressed. I have headaches (probably due to the bad diet and wine). I get pins and needles in my legs and feet and numbness. Have I damaged my body irreversibly I know might be a bit late in the day to ask by I have a young son and I am worried. The drink and cigs are no more. Anyone?

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