Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur because of diet, medication, or gastrointestinal surgery, but it can also be hereditary. Genetic pernicious anemia is a cause of vitamin B12 deficiency that sometimes slips right off the radar, yet can produce debilitating symptoms of extreme fatigue, disorientation, muscular pain, and depression.
What causes vitamin B12 deficiency?
Listed are just some of the most common causes of vitamin B12 deficiency. For a more complete list, see vitamin B12 deficiency causes.
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal-based food sources such as fish, chicken, beef, and dairy products. The foods that have the most vitamin B12 are shellfish and organ meats. So if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, then it’s vitally important to supplement with vitamin B12 in order to prevent becoming anemic.
Certain medications can inhibit your ability to digest vitamin B12 from foods; these include PPIs for acid reflux and heartburn, metformin for diabetes, and certain antidepressants.
Also, if you’ve ever had bariatric surgery (gastric bypass) or gastrointestinal surgery for Crohn’s disease, then you are required to take lifelong vitamin B12 supplements.
The more autoimmune disorders you have, the likelier your chances of developing new ailments caused by a weak immune system. Vitamin B12 deficiency from pernicious anemia is one such autoimmune disease that can occur alone or along with other genetic autoimmune dysfunctions.
Genetic pernicious anemia is caused by a lack of intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme needed to absorb vitamin B12.
Pernicious anemia can occur as an autoimmune disorder, or it can develop as a comorbid condition to other autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or celiac disease.
If you eat a healthy diet of lean meats and seafood, and you don’t fall into any of the above-mentioned categories, then your cause of vitamin B12 deficiency may be genetic.
Is vitamin B12 deficiency serious?
Vitamin B12 is crucial for many important biochemical responses throughout your body. Vitamin B12 aids in red blood cell formation, and also sustains healthy neurological functioning.
Vitamin B12 boosts cellular energy, supports a good metabolism, and helps to regulate levels of homocysteine, a hormone linked with heart attack and stroke.
Untreated, long-term vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia can result severe irreversible damage to your nervous system, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, cognitive impairments, and sometimes, death.
Off the bat, your family medical history can tell you if you’re prone to vitamin B12 deficiency from genetic pernicious anemia. If anybody in your family suffers from pernicious anemia or any autoimmune disorder, then your chances of developing severe vitamin B12 deficiency are higher than normal.
You can test for vitamin B12 deficiency easily with one blood test, but the results are not always accurate. In diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency, your doctor should pay attention to the symptoms you’re experiencing and how well you’re responding to vitamin B12 supplementation.
Please tell us…
Do you or your parents have vitamin B12 deficiency? Have you found a genetic link to that or other autoimmune disorders?
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please leave your comments below.
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