Overview Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia
Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is when there is a low amount of red blood cells due to a lack of vitamin B12. Anemia is a broad condition that describes a general lack of red blood cell counts for varying reasons. And because of this, there are a variety of anemia.
Commonly Associated With
Megaloblastic macrocytic anemia
Causes Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia
Vitamin B12 is necessary to produce red blood cells. In order to provide vitamin B12 to your cells:
- You should eat foods that have vitamin B12 in them. Foods such as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products are all examples.
- As well as eating food, your body has to take in enough vitamin B12. A special protein, called an intrinsic factor, assists the body in this. An intrinsic factor is also released by cells in the stomach.
A lack of vitamin B12 may be due to dietary factors, including:
- Poor nutrition during pregnancy
- Poor diet in infants
- Eating a strict vegetarian diet. However, a certain vegetables can contain vitamin B12, as well taking regulated supplements can also prevent this if you live a vegetarian lifestyle.
Particular health conditions can also make it more difficult for your body to absorb enough vitamin B12.
Some of these condition can include:
- Pernicious anemia, a type of vitamin B12 anemia that occurs when your body destroys cells that make intrinsic factor
- Crohn disease, celiac disease, infection with the fish tapeworm, or other problems that make it difficult for your body to digest foods
- Surgery that removes certain parts of your stomach or small intestine, such as some weight-loss surgeries
- Severe alcoholism
- Taking antacids and other heartburn medicines for a long period of time
- Nitrous, or “laughing gas”, abuse
Symptoms Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia
You may not show or even symptoms. Although symptoms for this deficiency can be mild.
Symptoms can include:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Fatigue, lack of energy, or lightheadedness when standing up or with exertion
- Feeling irritable
- Shortness of breath, mostly during exercise
- Swollen, red tongue, or bleeding gums
- Loss of appetite
- Irregularly pale skin for yourself
If your vitamin B12 levels are too low for a long enough time, nerve damage can develop throughout parts of your body.
Symptoms of nerve damage include:
- Psychosis (losing contact with reality)
- Loss of balance
- Numbness and tingling of hands and feet
- Confusion or change in mental status (dementia) in severe cases
- Problems concentrating
Exams & Tests
A health care provider can perform a physical exam. This may then reveal potential problems with your reflexes and raise concerns for a deficiency.
These tests can include:
- Serum bilirubin level
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Reticulocyte count
- Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) level
- Vitamin B12 level
- Methylmalonic acid (MMA) level
- Serum homocysteine level (amino acid found in the blood)
Other procedures that may be done to check for a possible vitamin deficiency include:
- Enteroscopy to examine the small intestine
- Bone marrow biopsy if the diagnosis is not clear
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) to examine the stomach
Treatment Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia
Treatment depends on the cause of B12 deficiency anemia. Although, the goal of treatment is always to increase your vitamin B12 level.
Some treatment could be a shot of vitamin B12 around once a month. If you have a very low level of B12, though, you may need more shots in the beginning. It is possible you may need shots every month for an indefinite period of time
Some people positively respond to a vitamin B12 deficiency by taking vitamin B12 supplements by mouth regularly. Your provider will also recommend that you eat a variety of foods in your diet to naturally boost this vitamin.