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The texture of your tongue could point to a vitamin deficiency

Lacking certain vitamins can be disastrous for your health, especially if the deficiency goes on for a while. Take the case of a vitamin B9 deficiency, for example, which can lead to megaloblastic anaemia. According to experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine, the texture of the tongue could be a telling sign of a B9 deficiency.

A “smooth and tender” tongue is indicative of a vitamin B9 deficiency, in addition to:

  • Pale skin
  • Decreased appetite
  • Grouchiness
  • Lack of energy
  • Tiring easily
  • Diarrhoea.

A lack of vitamin B9 can lead to fewer red blood cells and deformed red blood cells in the body.

As red blood cells are tasked with transporting oxygen to the tissues and organs, without an adequate supply of healthy red blood cells, problems can occur.

Additional symptoms to be aware of, according to the NHS, includes:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Palpitations
  • Cognitive changes.

“See a GP,” the health body advises if you are experiencing these symptoms, as it needs to be “treated as soon as possible”.

The health body adds: “The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the chance of permanent damage.”

Where to find vitamin B9?

Food sources rich in vitamin B9 include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peas, chickpeas and brown rice.

If you find that you regularly consume such foods, yet you are still deficient in the vitamin, you might have coeliac disease.


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The NHS explains: “Coeliac disease is a condition where your immune system attacks your own tissues when you eat gluten.

“This damages the gut (small intestine) so you are unable to take in nutrients.”

Possible indications of coeliac disease can include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and passing wind
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting.

More general symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • An itchy rash
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Tingling and numbness in hands and feet
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, arms and legs.

Coeliac disease can be diagnosed via a specific blood test that checks for antibodies usually present in the blood of those who have the condition.

If the antibodies are found, you will be referred for a biopsy of the intestines.

Treatment includes excluding foods that contain gluten from the diet, such as:

  • Couscous
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Pies
  • Gravies.

Finding online communities if you are diagnosed with the condition could help with emotional support.

Should the coeliac disease be the cause of vitamin B9 deficiency, once the gut has healed, you should be able to get the nutrients you need from your diet.

If the deficiency is caused by your diet, it’s important to remember that the body is unable to store B9 for long periods of time.

“Your body’s store of folate is usually enough to last four months,” the NHS says,

“This means you need folate in your daily diet to ensure your body has sufficient stores of the vitamin.”

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