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Pernicious Anaemia Society
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How long before b12 deficiency nerve symptoms become permanent?

hi Im 23 years old, new here ... i for long time suffered from many conditions ( probably since i was born ) ... that i just recently realised that it matchs completely the b12 deficiency symptoms ... it took me years to realise that. it's really holding me down ... i can't do anything ...

i didn't visit any doctor yet (due to my financial condition) ... but i would like to ask ... if i had b12 deficiency since i was born till today ... is it long enough so the nerve symptoms gonna be permanent?? (sorry for my english)

5 Replies

Hi anas_pipo are you in the U.K?

It is possible to be at risk of having a B12 deficiency if you were an Infant born to and/or breast fed by a woman who was symptomatic or was at risk of a B12 deficiency herself. Are you able to ask your mother about it?

Hopefully even if this was the case for you at birth, you should soon be able to build up your level of B12 from eating foods such as meat, fish, eggs, poultry, and dairy produce such as milk and cheese.

What is your diet like now. Can you eat any or all of the above?

The liver can store B12 for several years although it is hard to say how much for how long as we are all different.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency tend to develop slowly and may not be recognised immediately. As the condition worsens, common symptoms include:

Weakness and fatigue

Light-headedness and dizziness

Palpitations and rapid heartbeat

Shortness of breath

A sore tongue that has a red, beefy appearance

Nausea or poor appetite

Weight loss


Yellowish tinge to the skin and eyes

If low levels of B12 remain for a long time, the condition also can lead to irreversible damage to nerve cells, which can cause the following symptoms:

Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet

Difficulty walking

Muscle weakness


Memory loss




You really do need to see a doctor and ask for your serum B12 and Folate levels to be checked.

If your B12 levels are consistently low, you may also want to ask your doctor to order a test for Intrinsic Factor Antibodies to check for Pernicious Anemia. (Pernicious Anaemia sounds horrible but is very easily treated by taking B12 injections.

I am not a medically trained person but I've had P.A. (a form of B12 deficiency) for more than 45 years.

I wish you well


thanks for your reply ... it's very kind from you.

actually im not from UK ... i'm from morocco, north africa.

when i was born ... i've been told that i was a very healthy infant ... but those symtoms start to show up on me later after a few years ... what i think is that i had this from my father ...

i'm eating all what you've said above ... but my appetite is very weak ... probably the probleme in my absorption ...

i have all the symptoms ... that's what make me sure that i have b12 deficiency ...

but if i had b12 deficiency for all this years since i was a kid tell today ... and i'm 23 years old now ... is my nerve symptoms gonna be permanent? how long should be to become permanent?

and my last question is ... is b12 deficiency can cause diabtes?

i hope you answer ... and thank you so much!


If you think you have an absorption problem with your stomach and your blood test for B12 shows that you are deficient you should talk to your doctor about having injections of B12.

It is also important that your Folate level is monitored as this is essential to process the B12.

There is a complex interaction between folic acid, vitamin B12 and iron. A deficiency of one may be "masked" by excess of another so the three must always be in balance.

Symptoms of a folate deficiency can include:

symptoms related to anaemia

reduced sense of taste


numbness and tingling in the feet and hands

muscle weakness


Folic acid works closely with vitamin B12 in making red blood cells and helps iron function properly in the body.

Folate is sourced naturally from eating leafy green vegetables, sprouts, broccoli, peas, beans etc.

As to any neurological damage done by a Vitamin B12 deficiency, once supplementation (preferably by injection if you do have an absorption problem) begins, the B12 will start to repair the damage done to the nerves. However there is no guarantee or set timescale for all the damage to be repaired as we are all different. Some symptoms may improve straight away whilst others may even seem to get worse before they get better and may take weeks, months or even years.

I hope you can manage to find a doctor who will treat you as soon as possible and within your financial means.

Remember, anas_pipo I am not a medically trained person - you really do need to see a doctor.

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Two books about B12 deficiency I found helpful.

"What You Need to Know About Pernicious Anaemia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency" by Martyn Hooper

" Could It Be B12?: An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses " by Sally Pacholok and JJ. Stuart

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B12 deficiency will not cause diabetes.

However, if the cause of the B12 deficiency is auto-immune then you would have a higher risk of developing another auto-immune disorder which could include an auto-immune form of diabetes.

Its really not possible to say at what point damage from a B12 deficiency will become permanent - it depends on your individual metabolism and will vary a lot.

I can trace my B12 symptoms back several decades but I don't have any permanent nerve damage.

Please note that anxiety - reduced resilience against stress - is a symptom of B12 deficiency.

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