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Vitamin B12 deficiency: Difficulty perceiving ‘two colours’ could be a sign of low levels

Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency

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Alongside keeping the nervous system well-oiled, vitamin B12 enables the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen. Deprivation of the element prevents the body from functioning properly, giving rise to a host of neurological complications. One lesser-known sign of low levels may be an inability to perceive the colours yellow and blue.

The causes of colour-blindness remain under-researched, despite affecting roughly three million people in the UK.

The condition is diagnosed in individuals who find it difficult to identify and distinguish between certain colours.

According to the NHS: “In the vast majority of cases, colour vision deficiency is caused by a genetic fault passed on to a child by their parents.

“It occurs because some of the colour-sensitive cells in the eyes, called cones, are either missing or do not work properly.”

READ MORE: Vitamin B12 deficiency: Can you smell that? The ‘odorous’ symptom hinting at low levels

According to the website, patients who suffer a shortfall in B12 could struggle to differentiate between certain colours.

The body explains: “Uncommon neurological symptoms include impairment of pain, temperature and touch sensations.“The legs and feet are involved earlier and more consistently than the hands. Yellow-blue colour blindness may occur.”

Colour blindness can present itself in a range of degenerative diseases but rarely is it caused by nutrient deficiencies.

But in the case of vitamin B12 deficiencies, yellow-blue colour blindness may result from optic neuropathy.

Monika Wassermann, Medical Director at Oliolusso, blue-yellow colour blindness causes people to mistake the blue shades or colours for green and yellow colours for green.

She explained: “Though it’s rare, it can affect both genders and can be acquired from various factors.

“Insufficient vitamin B12 levels in the body can lead to the destruction of the optic nerve which impacts how the brain and eyes communicate and transmit visual signals.

“Impairment of these parts can lead to blurry vision and confusion of various colour shades.”

The expert explained that the complication is more prevalent among individuals with a severe deficiency, which usually afflicts people in older age groups.

She continued: “Taking foods or supplements that boost your vitamin B12 intake and levels in the body can help repair the optic nerve and never any colour blindness triggered by it.”

Other symptoms of B12 deficiencyPoor memory and cognitive deficits are bound to occur as levels of B12 decrease, but one of the main concerns with deficiencies is myelopathy.

Myelopathy is feared because it puts nerve endings at the peril of irreversible damage.

At this stage of a deficiency, myelin sheaths and axons are destroyed in the white matter of the spinal cord.

Because myelin – a protective substance – enables the transmissions of waves along the nerves, a loss of sensation or tingling sensation may occur.

The risk of B12 deficiency grows significantly with age, but dietary trends can also cause a deficiency.

Eating a variety of animal-based foods offers strong chances of keeping a deficiency at bay.

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