B12 deficiency: Swelling in the ankles and feet could be a sign of low levels

B12 deficiency plagues countries worldwide – with most cases stemming from low consumption of animal products, but the condition also has other causes. If left untreated, a lack of B12 can cause great damage to the nerve endings, which will manifest in a number of ways. One sign in the legs and ankles that is worse during the day could signal low levels of B12.

The symptoms of deficiency are too often eliminated as a consequence of old age.

Fatigue, memory difficulties and clumsiness are some of the known signs.

Other complications may appear further down the line, however, as a result of nerve damage, justifying a visit to a doctor.

Taylor Graber, MD, a resident physician and anesthetist at the University of California at San Diego, told Live Strong, “A severe deficiency of B12 can lead to peripheral neuropathy and autonomic dysfunction, where the blood vessels dilate.”

READ MORE: Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency: Does your tongue look different? Changes in your mouth

The result of this is an accumulation of fluids that are trapped in the tissues of the body, causing the legs and ankles to swell.

The condition, known as edema, is the result of autonomic dysfunction that develops when the nerves are damaged.

Although the condition usually appears in the feet, ankles and legs, it can also manifest in the face, hands and abdomen.

Its severity can range from mild to life-threatening.


The IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences explains that edema begins in the morning when a person wakes up after waking up.

“[…] Edema will begin to appear in the morning as the person assumes a vertical pose, and gradually increases during the day, ”wrote the paper’s authors.

“Edema can disappear at night during sleep and becomes minimal in the morning at the time of getting out of bed due to the absence of an effect of gravitational forces on blood vessels and lower lameness.

“Thus vitamin B12 plays a key role in the maintenance of vascular smooth muscle tone while maintaining the integrity of autonomic functions.”

Some individuals may become deficient due to low consumption of the right foods.

Others may become deficient because their body is unable to absorb the food, and this can cause levels in the body to decrease gradually, over long periods of time.

B12 shots are the main basis of therapy for individuals who are unable to absorb the food naturally.

But doctors strongly recommend that other individuals source their B12 from food.

Fish and seafood, fortified cereals, beef, liver, chicken and eggs are all excellent sources of B12.

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