If you’ve ever noticed little white spots on your arm, you may have brushed them off as no big deal (or thrown on your favorite cardi to cover them up!) — but you shouldn’t ignore them. They could be caused by the getting too much sun or aging, but they also can be a sign of something more serious, like a vitamin B12 deficiency.
This vitamin is key for so many bodily functions, from improving your mood to helping your body produce red blood cells. According to Harvard Health Publishing, adults should be getting at least 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 a day. However, it’s relatively common for people to not get enough of it, especially as we age.
The good news is there are some easy lifestyle tweaks you can make to prevent this from happening.
How Vitamin B12 Affects Your Skin
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology noted that vitamin B12 has a somewhat complicated relationship with your skin. If you are lacking in this vitamin, it can present itself in the form of those white spots or other skin conditions, like vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, or acne.
Research published in Canadian Family Physician had similar findings, but added that it takes about two to five years for someone to develop this deficiency and that it’s mainly caused by malabsorption — which occurs when your body can’t absorb minerals and nutrients from the foods you eat. Since your body can’t naturally produce this vitamin, your diet is a key factor for getting the necessary dose of it.
White spots on your skin aren’t the only sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency: You might also experience other symptoms such as fatigue, poor memory, and constipation. In this case, you need a boost of B12 to get your health back on the right track.
How to Get More Vitamin B12 Into Your Diet
Making diet changes may sound a little daunting, but My Food Data released their list of 10 foods rich in vitamin B12 with many kitchen staples making the cut. Clams, tuna, and king crab were the top three foods listed alongside dairy products like Swiss cheese and low-fat milk. These are some mouth-watering ways to get your dose of the vitamin!
If you don’t want to change your diet, taking supplements like Nutricost Vitamin B12 Capsules (Buy on Amazon, $13.95) is another way to make sure that your body is always supplied with it. Just consult with your doctor before supplementing.
Although white spots are the most visible signs that you might have a vitamin B12 deficiency, they can also be the result of aging, getting too much sun exposure, or genetics. For instances like this, always wearing sunscreen is always important for protecting your skin.
Either way, if you notice them appearing on your arm or other areas of your body and are experiencing any symptoms of this deficiency, you should see a doctor or dermatologist to find out the exact cause. You can also possibly discuss any medical or surgical treatments if you wish to remove them. Always being on the safe side when it comes to your health means that you can get ahead of any potential problem!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First For Women.
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