Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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A vitamin B12 shortage can damage the nerves, so the nutrient is best supplemented in individuals who can’t acquire it naturally. There is anecdotal evidence, however, that certain individuals taking the pills have suffered Uhthoff’s syndrome. These complications could lead to a transient impairment of vision, according to experts.
Monika Wassermann, Medical Director at Oliolusso, explained: “Uhthoff’s phenomenon is seen in individuals aged between 40 and 49 that consume vitamin B12.”
It is also more commonly seen in women than men, according to the health platform eHealthMe.
Dr. Tariq Mahmood, Medical Director at Concepto Diagnostics noted: “There isn’t any legitimate research into the link between vitamin B12 and the Uhthoff phenomenon.
“Of 86,813 who reported taking vitamin B12 on eHealthMe, only 27 people reported the Uhthoff phenomenon as a side effect. However, these experiences are solely from the perspective of the patient and are unconfirmed by medical doctors.”
The syndrome describes a set of neurological symptoms related to the demyelination of cells when the body becomes overheated.
Increased body temperature can be caused by hot weather, central heating, illness or fever, and physical activity.
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“It features three things, including ipsilateral anosmia, ipsilateral optic atrophy, a contralateral optic disc oedema,” explains Miss Wassermann.
“Eating food sources with vitamin B12 enhances DNA synthesis.”
But lack of vitamin B12 can also lead to complications concerning vision due to myeloneuropathy and peripheral neuropathy, points out the expert.
She added: “Some people may get optic neuropathy, which can show better progress if diagnosed and treated earlier, such as at the beginning of symptoms.”
The condition is typically seen in patients with multiple sclerosis due to increases in their core body temperatures.
In fact, studies have demonstrated that even small increases in temperature can block or slow the conduction of a nerve impulse along nerves that have suffered demyelination.
It was first discovered by neuro-ophthalmologist Wilhelm Uhthoff, who noticed patients report visual problems after exercising.
Patients typically present with decreased visual acuity with obvious signs of macular degeneration on examination.
While the symptoms tend to be temporary, vision can expect to be restored once the body’s temperatures have returned to normal.
Occasionally, this can take up to 24 hours.
However, the condition does not indicate impending blindness, notes Science Direct.
It may also manifest alongside other telltale signs, such as headache.
“Affected patients report a rapid reduction in vision over minutes, followed by gradual resolution over hours to days,” adds the health body.
While there is no treatment for Uhthoff’s phenomenon, it can be managed in several different ways.
WebMD explains: “Find things that cool your body from the outside, like clothing, shade, sprays and other products.”
Drinking cold drinks before and during exercise, as well as exercising in cool water, helps alleviate the issue.
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