Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia can cause a wide range of symptoms. These usually develop gradually, but can worsen if the condition goes untreated.
Anaemia is where you have fewer red blood cells than normal or you have an abnormally low amount of a substance called haemoglobin in each red blood cell.
General symptoms of anaemia may include:
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
If you have anaemia caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, you may have other symptoms, such as:
- a pale yellow tinge to your skin
- a sore and red tongue (glossitis)
- mouth ulcers
- pins and needles (paraesthesia)
- changes in the way that you walk and move around
- disturbed vision
- changes in the way you think, feel and behave
- a decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement (dementia)
Some of these symptoms can also happen in people who have a vitamin B12 deficiency but have not developed anaemia.
Symptoms of folate deficiency
Additional symptoms in people with anaemia caused by a folate deficiency can include:
- symptoms related to anaemia
- reduced sense of taste
- numbness and tingling in the feet and hands
- muscle weakness
When to see a GP
See a GP if you're experiencing symptoms of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia.
These conditions can often be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the results of a blood test.
It's important for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible if left untreated.
The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the chance of permanent damage.
Page last reviewed: 23 May 2019
Next review due: 23 May 2022