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Vitamin B12 deficiency and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria are linked in several studies as having a strong causative correlation with each other. Even in people without gastritis or other digestive problems, scientists have detected H. pylori bacteria in more than half of patients suffering from pernicious anemia due to untreated vitamin B12 deficiency.
H. pylori causes vitamin B12 deficiency
H. pylori bacteria damages parietal cells needed to produce intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme which helps to absorb vitamin B12 from the foods we eat.
There are many causes of vitamin B12 deficiency, and if you live in a developed country, then you can probably overrule H. pylori infection.
Still, the numbers add up; about half of the world’s population is carriers of these harmful bacteria, so it’s a good idea to check this one off your list of possible causes of vitamin B12 deficiency.
In a Turkish study on vitamin B12 deficiency and H. pylori, researchers studied 138 patients with pernicious anemia, and discovered the H. pylori infection in 56% of vitamin B12 deficiency sufferers.
Furthermore, removing the bacteria resulted in higher vitamin B12 levels in 40% of afflicted patients, proving that the helicobacter pylori infection can cause vitamin B12 deficiency.
If you’re an adult diabetic, then you’re in a higher risk category for vitamin B12 deficiency than people who don’t struggle with diabetes. Health experts agree that diabetics using a certain medication for type-2 diabetes must check their vitamin B12 levels regularly, in order to prevent debilitating symptoms of pernicious anemia that often mimic those already experienced by diabetics.
It’s been published in countless medical journals, but many people who have diabetes are still unaware that they can potentially become severely anemic, and not because of their health condition…but because of medications they are taking to improve their health.
Pernicious anemia, which results from long-time vitamin B12 deficiency, can cripple the nervous system and cause a breakdown in cognitive functioning. Fewer red blood cells results in less oxygen in the brain and other parts of your body. Over time, it can also increase your risk for heart attack and stroke, through increasing homocysteine levels.
Most people are able to avoid it just by eating foods that are rich in vitamin B12, such as beef, seafood, chicken, and dairy products. But for many people- about 30% of all US citizens- vitamin B12 levels continue to deplete, despite diet.
That’s because there are several factors outside diet that raise your risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency.
For diabetics, the cause of pernicious anemia is metformin, an oral anti-hyperglycemic drug that is used to control type-2 diabetes.
“In controlled clinical trials of Metformin of 29 weeks duration, a decrease to subnormal levels of previously normal serum Vitamin B12 levels, without clinical manifestations, was observed in approximately 7% of patients.”
In many studies focusing on metformin usage and vitamin B12 levels, scientists found that metformin hydrochloride tablets interfere with “B12 absorption from the B12-intrinsic factor complex,” but that symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency were “rapidly reversible with discontinuation of Metformin hydrochloride tablets or Vitamin B12 supplementation.”
Regardless of how well you manage your diet, you may still become deficient in crucial vitamin B12 nutrients, because you aren’t able to break down vitamin B12 from food and absorb it into your system.
That means that even tablets containing vitamin B12 will be of little use, as they must be absorbed through a digestive system that is unable to use B12 efficiently.
To prevent vitamin B12 deficiency anemia with diabetes, it is essential to use non-dietary forms of vitamin B12 that bypass the need for gastrointestinal digestion.
These include vitamin B12 injections, which require prescription, and non-prescription vitamin B12 supplements that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream without requiring injection.
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Tell somebody you have vitamin B12 deficiency, and you usually get a blank stare, or they’ll ask, “Is that an illness or something?” Then you wonder, is vitamin B12 deficiency an illness? The truth is, vitamin B12 deficiency, or pernicious anemia, is complicated.
Vitamin B12 sources
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a necessary nutrient that you get from eating animal-based foods. The richest sources of vitamin B12 occur in beef liver, halibut, clams, oysters, and poultry. Other foods that contain small amounts of vitamin B12 are cheese, yogurt, and eggs.
Most people who eat a steady diet that includes meat, fish, and dairy products will never develop illness from vitamin B12 deficiency.
There are virtually no vegan sources of vitamin B12. Therefore, vegans and vegetarians must take regular vitamin B12 supplements in order to avoid developing illness from vitamin B12 deficiency.
Still, there are several ways of developing vitamin B12 deficiency, even if you eat meat and fish.
If you have a family history for pernicious anemia, then you are at risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency illness. Pernicious anemia sometimes occurs because of an autoimmune disorder that inhibits your ability to digest vitamin B12 naturally from foods. Sometimes, pernicious anemia is inherited.
If you don’t have pernicious anemia, but suffer from other autoimmune disorder illness, then you are at risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency from pernicious anemia in the future.
Pernicious anemia also occurs with gastrointestinal disorders, as inflammation of the stomach linings, esophagus, or small intestines interferes with your ability to digest vitamin B12 normally, resulting in illness from vitamin B12 deficiency.
Comorbid conditions can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency illness. People who suffer from fibromyalgia, lupus, migraines, Crohn’s disease, or celiac disease run a high risk for developing illness from vitamin B12 deficiency.
Certain medications indirectly cause vitamin B12 deficiency. Protein pump inhibitors (PPIs) that are prescribed for acid reflux inhibit your ability to extract vitamin B12 from the food you eat. Also, metformin, a popular drug for diabetes, may cause vitamin B12 deficiency after long-term use.
People who have had gastrointestinal surgery are required to take vitamin B12 supplements in order to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency. These include patients of bariatric surgery (gastric bypass) and ileectomy for the treatment of Crohn’s disease.
Excessive alcohol usage is a known cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Old age is a risk factor for vitamin B12 deficiency, as fewer stomach acids are produced, resulting in vitamin B12 absorption.
Medically, vitamin B12 deficiency is defined as a condition that occurs when your B12 levels drop to a dangerous low. So, in and of itself, vitamin B12 deficiency is not an “illness.”
However, vitamin B12 deficiency can result from an underlying illness, something previously undetected because the symptoms weren’t there. Such is the case with autoimmune disorders, which can interfere with your ability to absorb vitamin B12.
Like a withdrawn bank account that suddenly reaches zero, your stores of vitamin B12 may gradually decline, unbeknownst to you, until you get the warning signs indicating severe deficiency and the need for immediate supplementation.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may include:
Long-term, constant overwhelming fatigue
Depression or anxiety for longer than a few months
Frequent memory problems that are not related to age
Painful numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the hands, feet, arms, legs, and tongue
Muscle pain and spasms
If you think you have vitamin B12 deficiency, then immediate supplementation should commence in order to replenish vitamin B12 levels and reverse symptoms of illness.
This is important: Not all vitamin B12 supplements work.
If you can’t digest vitamin B12 from foods, then you won’t be able to digest it from vitamin B12 pills, either.
For that reason, it’s essential to use a non-dietary form of vitamin B12, for optimum digestion and relief from symptoms such as fatigue, sluggishness, muscle pain, and brain fog. Excellent choices include a combination of vitamin B12 shots and synthetic over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplementation.
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Vitamin B12 deficiency is a condition that affects all parts of our body- our brain, digestive system, metabolism, and more. That’s because vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is such as vital nutrient; it’s responsible for maintaining cognitive health, increasing energy, and sustaining red blood cell production. When vitamin B12 levels run low, we likewise experience the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency- constant fatigue, muscle pain, depression, and memory loss. Here is a comprehensive list of the various bodily functions that are impaired by vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 deficiency and the nervous system
Vitamin B12 protects our nerve cells from damage by sustaining the myelin sheath, a fatty coating that surrounds each individual nerve cell, boosting intercellular communication and shielding our nervous system network from damage.
Without vitamin B12, your myelin coating gradually disintegrates in a process referred to as demyelination. Only replenishment of vitamin B12 can restore the myelin sheath back to normal and prevent permanent damage to the peripheral nervous system (peripheral neuropathy) or central nervous system.
Symptoms of nervous system damage caused by vitamin B12 deficiency include:
Ataxia (loss of muscular coordination)
Paresthesia (Painful numbness and tingling in the extremities)
Abnormal, slow reflexes
Poor bladder control
Tinnitus (ear ringing)
Vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia
One of the most important functions that vitamin B12 performs in our body is sustaining production of healthy red blood cells. We need a continuous flow of hemoglobin in order to deliver oxygen to the various tissues and organs in our body.
Pernicious anemia is one cause of vitamin B12 deficiency, and it causes our red blood cell count to plummet, causing symptoms of oxygen loss. Untreated, pernicious anemia can be fatal. Only continuous supplementation of vitamin B12 can reverse symptoms of pernicious anemia and restore healthy red blood cells.
Symptoms of oxygen depletion from vitamin B12 deficiency include:
There are many mood disorders that can mask underlying symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. Likewise, there is a high rate of psychological misdiagnoses that result from undetected vitamin B12 deficiency.
Psychological and cognitive symptoms that may be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency include:
Vitamin B12 deficiency and gastrointestinal health
There are many strong correlations between vitamin B12 deficiency and gastrointestinal disorders. Sometimes, gastrointestinal illnesses such as Crohn’s disease or fibromyalgia trigger vitamin B12 malabsorption, causing vitamin B12 deficiency. However, there are many cases of vitamin B12 deficiency actually causing problems with digestion and damage to the stomach and esophageal lining.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal damage that occur with vitamin B12 deficiency include:
Ulcers in the mouth, stomach or esophagus
Unintended weight loss
Vitamin B12 deficiency and the immune system
Your immune system may also be compromised with long-term vitamin B12 deficiency, reducing our ability to fight viruses, infections, or other diseases.
Immune system conditions associated with vitamin B12 deficiency include: