Pernicious Anaemia Society
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B12 balance

I read Clive Alive’s Response yesterday where he listed b12 symptims one of which was the inability to stand on one foot with ones eyes closed.

I tried doing this on both legs and yep! I could not do it at all.

1. Why is this so?


2. Why doesn’t the NHS use this method to diagnose b12 deficiency- it would save a lot of money!

(For the humorous 2 is said with levity - I say this as poor old Clive got into problems last week with a Jaffa cake reference.

11 Replies

Hi Alfabeta in 1968 I had a "Schilling" test during which I had to drink some radioactive B12 (which made me glow in the dark) but was inconclusive for P.A.

Four years later I had another "Schilling" test and when I went to my doctor for the results she said that I only had two years to live.

I said "I can't stand this any more" and she replied "you have P.A. then"

Simples :)

And I've always thought it was the second Schilling test that confirmed it. Silly me!

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Very funny! But why can’t I stand on one leg with my eyes closed?


I don't have the foggiest eye dear Alfabeta I guess it's just one of those things.

Have a good day.




It doesn’t use that test for a B12 deficiency because there are far too many other possible reasons for it.

Your balance system uses three inputs to work properly: your eyes tell the brain if it looks as if you’re moving, and how; your inner ear tells he brain if you’re moving, and how; your body (especially the legs) know what position they’re in to a fine degree.

The system seems to be able to work OK if one of those inputs gets switched off. So you can walk quite happily with your eyes shut.

But severe neuropathy switches off the signals from the position monitors in your lower legs. You can still walk reasonably with your eyes open. But when you shut them, suddenly the brain is relying totally on the input from the inner ear - and that’s just not good enough.

The most common symptom is a tendency to fall over when washing your hair in the shower, especially if you tilt your head back.

A neurologist will do several checks on your balance.

Stand, feet together, eyes closed, and he will gently shove your shoulders from behind. Normal people sway a fraction then recover. I have to take a step forward.

I can’t stand on one leg for toffee and when he asked me to walk toe-to-toe without looking down I can’t even do one step. The funniest was when he asked me to hop on one leg. I almost fell on the three students observing. Lots of terrified squealing as my large body fell towards them. Luckily I was expecting it.

So I fail all of those tests. But my neuropathy isn’t caused by B12. Indeed, a B12 deficiency isn’t he most common cause of those symptoms (diabetes or leprosy, depending on which bit of the world you’re in).

If you have other symptoms of neuropathy (pins and needles in toes is the most common) then ask to see a neurologist.


Thank you very much. I learn new things about my condition all the time on this site - yet I haven’t learnt a thing from my GP surgery apart from either denial of my symptoms or statements which are way off the mark.

I don’t, as yet, have pins and needles. In fact, most of the symptoms described on the site do not fit my experience which is why I believe I have b12 deficiency without PA. It is the reason, I think, why my GP surgery does not understand my illness - they have just assumed that, because my b12 level was so low, that I had to have PA.

My diet was verging on vegan and my doctor put me on recurring prescriptions for omaprezole which I was taking on and off for about 15 years - it seems reasonable to assume that this caused my deficiency and, hopefully, after three years of symptoms, I am beginning to get better as my symptoms are reducing in strength and frequency.

At least I hope so.

Thank you for taking the time to explain.


The symptoms of a B12 deficiency are the symptoms of Pernicious Anaemia. PA is just one of many possible causes of a deficiency. But yours is almost certainly caused by diet and omeprazole.

If you don’t have pins and needles or numbness then you probably don’t have neuropathy. Some people just don’t have a good sense of balance.


my main memory of testing balance with my eyes closed in the early days was actually standing there aware that I just didn't know by instinct how to move my feet with my eyes closed and having to think the whole process through in a way that I really shouldn't have needed to think it through.

My balance problems seemed mainly to come from not getting enough feed-back from the souls of my feet - so I initially thought I was condemned to a life of wearing trainers that gave a larger area of feeling - but things are now much better as I can feel things with my feet. In fact in many respects I get the opposite with trainers - no longer have the awareness of exactly what is going on that I have with bare feet ... so the cats are well advised to give me a wide birth when I've got the trainers on.


Definitely the Omeprazole helped to cause your B12 deficiency Your diet verging on vegan would have also been a cause . B12 injections would help you no end , if you are still taking Omeprazole ,with of course B9 in the shape of tablets ,or plenty of vegs with folate . Best wishes .

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Well Alfabeta please add me to that wobble list! I read this post with a smile and a really? Then I attempted to try it out! 😂

Started with eyes opened balancing on one leg, closed eyes... Timber....

Repeated with other leg... Ditto!

I will be asking people all day now to try this out to see if its just a b12 thing!

Thanks for sharing and thanks to clivealive


You’re welcome - I asked my partner to try it and she could do it easily.

Read FBirders response - it explains the reason in great detail.


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