Despite being essential to our wellbeing, B12 levels are exceptionally low in the UK, with at least one in 50 Britons thought to be deficient. Deficiency puts individuals at risk of serious health complications, so early detection is key. Thankfully, the tongue often acts as a window to overall health, and certain signs in the shape could reflect an underlying deficiency.
The tongue serves as a marker for overall health, and it will often give a vitamin B12 diagnosis away.
Scalloped tongues are usually indicative of an underlying health condition, such as vitamin deficiency or hormonal imbalance.
Those with the condition usually have indentations and ripples along the sides of their tongue.
Medical News Today explains: “Scalloped tongue can occur when the body does not get enough of certain vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins which can lead to tongue enlargements.
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“Common nutritional deficiencies that cause scalloped tongue include vitamin B12 (and) riboflavin.”
Low levels of B12 are linked to a plethora of other changes in the tongue, however.
Inflammation of the tongue, that leaves the muscle feeling sore, red and swollen, can also be a sign of both B12 or iron deficiency.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency Because B12 is essential for normal neurological function, low levels can have wide-ranging effects.
Some of the earlier symptoms of deficiency include confusion, mood changes and headache.
Other signs may arise as a result of the body’s nerves being damaged.
These symptoms will include unexplained weakness and clumsiness, or tingling sensation in the hands and feet.
“Vitamin B12 is combined with a protein called intrinsic factor in your stomach,” explains the NHS.
“This mix of vitamin B12 and intrinsic factor is therefore absorbed into the body in part of the gut called the distal ileum.”
Supplementation is often recommended for those who are unable to absorb the nutrient naturally.
In other cases, the nutrient can be sourced from fortified foods, or meat, eggs and poultry.