Low Vitamin B12 May Gradually Affect Nails – A Clear Sign

Vitamin B12 is vital for a number of processes, including the synthesis of red blood cells and the functioning of the nervous system. Since the body does not produce it on its own, it must come from animal proteins. When the body does not receive the right amount, the synthesis of cells containing the pigment may be disrupted.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause several changes in nail texture and appearance, some of which mimic Addison’s pigmentation.

Nail bed hyperpigmentation seen in patients with low B12 levels is usually blue-black in color.

In 2018, a BMJ report described hyperpigmentation as one of the main complaints of a 12-year-old suffering from suboptimal B12 levels.

The boy has progressive darkening of the fingernails and toenails for three months.

READ MORE: Tinnitus Could Be A Sign Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency – Expert

“He noticed blue-black pigmentation of all of his fingernails and toenails,” the report says.

He adds: “The pigmentation was more visible on the nails, especially on the thumbnails.”

One notable observation made in the report was that nail pigmentation is more common in patients with darker skin.

The reason for this is probably a decrease in the level of glutathione, which leads to the disinhibition of tyrosinase.

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The latter is an enzyme of melanogenesis that can lead to an increase in melanin synthesis.

Fortunately, in patients with hyperpigmentation, symptoms disappear after intramuscular administration of cyanocobalamin.

Reports published in Clinical Inquiries state that “four articles describe five [other] case reports of pigmented nail changes associated with B12 deficiency that resolved with B12 therapy.”

Nail changes included brownish pigmentation, longitudinal streaks of hyperpigmentation, and bluish-black pigment of all nails with transverse longitudinal hyperpigmented streaks, and completely blue nails.

READ MORE: Tinnitus Could Be A Sign Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency – Expert

“The mechanism of hyperpigmentation is due to increased melanin synthesis and not to a defect in melanin,” the authors explained.

It should be noted that melanonychia is a condition of nail pigmentation that has several main causes and occurs due to an increase in the number of melanocytes in the nail.

Bacterial infections, systemic diseases, tumors, and certain medications can activate melanocytes and contribute to hyperpigmentation.

Therefore, to understand whether nail pigmentation is caused by a B12 deficiency, it may be worth relying on other classic symptoms.

Dr. Tariq Mahmoud, Medical Director of Concepto Diagnostics, explains that the classic symptoms are depression, irritability and mouth ulcers.

He explained, “Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep your blood and nerve cells healthy and also helps build DNA.

“Insufficient intake of vitamin B12 can cause the body to produce abnormally large red blood cells that cannot function properly.

“In turn, you suffer from anemia, a condition in which your body cannot carry the amount of oxygen it needs because you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells.”

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