It could mean: you have a vitamin deficiency. A glossy, bright red tongue may be a sign your body is lacking iron or B12. “Vitamin B12 and iron are needed to mature papillae (small bumps) on the tongue,” says Dr Naomi Ramer. “If you are deficient in those vitamins, you lose those papillae, which can make your tongue appear very smooth.” If you are experiencing a vitamin deficiency you’ll most likely notice other symptoms as well, such as fatigue, weakness, balance problems, and memory difficulties.
In severe cases, this can cause pain when eating hot liquids or spicy food. Vegetarians are especially prone to low levels of B12, which is found in certain meats. “If you notice your whole tongue is a strawberry red colour, and you are a vegetarian, ask your doctor about taking supplements,” says Dr Dale Amanda Tylor. Notable vitamin deficiencies can also be associated with an autoimmune disease in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, in which the stomach doesn’t absorb vitamins.