Student makes an impact with vital vitamin campaign
Tracey Witty from Loughborough was diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency in 2012. Vitamin B12 performs several important functions in the body, including keeping the nervous system healthy. A deficiency can cause a wide range of problems, including extreme tiredness, poor mental health and muscle weakness.
Most people can be easily treated with injections if they can’t absorb B12 from food or tablets if animal products are avoided to replace the missing vitamin. A injection in the form of hydroxocobalamin is usually the recommended option in the UK, this is given by a GP or nurse and is only available on prescription.
Vitamin B12 is commonly misdiagnosed and Tracey found that there was a lack of knowledge amongst health professionals about the condition.
Tracey explains: “Many who have been diagnosed with B12 deficiency are on a restricted treatment regime and so are forced to either buy B12 from abroad, where it is freely available to buy, or to quietly deteriorate.
“Removing the classification of Prescription Only Medicine from injectable B12 would have a profoundly positive affect on sufferers, their families and society as a whole.
“I began an awareness raising campaign in 2014 with a Change.org petition which has currently over 96,000 signatures. I then contacted Jane Hunt MP who presented it to Parliament. Following on from this, it was part of a Westminster Hall debate where Ms Hunt MP made her speech on the issue and included patient cases. We’re now awaiting a response.”
Tracey’s campaign has inspired her to pursue a PhD that is looking at the barriers to diagnosis and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Dr Marjorie Ghisoni, Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing and Tracey’s PhD supervisor, said:
“Tracey’s compassionate approach is outstanding and although not a nurse or a health professional, she had a vast knowledge of B12 Deficiency. This had developed from her own research into symptoms that the doctors had no explanation for.
“Tracey is a very compassionate person as she shares a universal understanding of the problems people with this disorder can face as well as the diversity of different people’s needs. Tracey is also able to help other people to recover by sharing her knowledge and experience and supporting them in navigating the complex health care journey.
“I have been fortunate to learn from Tracey and her compassionate approach towards raising awareness for people with B12 Deficiency, who might also have been misdiagnosed with Dementia, Depression, Psychosis, Confusion, Anxiety and more.”
Publication date: 22 July 2021