Although most of us get our necessary daily intake of vitamin B12 by eating our regular meals, the Mayo Clinic warns that we should all keep an eye out for signs of deficiency creeping up as we grow older or are diagnosed with conditions that make absorbing B12 more difficult. You’re probably already aware of B12 deficiency symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath, but there is another surprising clue your body is asking for more B12: white spots on your skin.
According to information shared by the Thyroid Patient Advocacy (TPA) with Express in October 2018, a lack of B12 can cause the melatonin in our skin to disappear and produce those white patches. They claim this usually occurs on a patient’s forearm and, if untreated, those patches can become dry and flaky and leave behind raw spots on the skin. While it’s easy to assume your skin dryness is related to changes in the weather — or skin conditions you’re prone to, like eczema — you might just need to be packing in a bit more B12 into your meals. (The TPA also lists another curious symptom to watch out for: an itchy tongue. The sensation can come without warning and usually occurs around the edges of one side of the tongue, or on the very tip.)
The National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, lists the recommended amount of B12 healthy adults need each day as just 2.4 micrograms. Considering that’s about how much of the vitamin you can find in a can of tuna, there’s a good chance you won’t struggle to fortify your day with an extra boost of B12 if necessary. Other examples include certain nutrient-heavy breakfast cereals, yogurt, eggs, and beef.
If you notice these pale patches on your skin, have a chat with your doctor about testing your vitamin levels. After all, it’s always better to catch these symptoms early before they’re mistaken for something else. The solution might be as easy as taking a B12 supplement each day, or simply eating more B12-rich foods. Whatever the case may be, you’ll certainly be glad you got those white patches of skin checked out before they got any worse.