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Posts Tagged ‘Digesting vitamin B12’

What Causes Vitamin B12 Malabsorption?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

 

 

If you have a family history for pernicious anemia or other autoimmune disorders, then your chances of developing vitamin B12 deficiency are higher than normal, even if you eat a diet rich in foods containing this vital nutrient. Below are common risk factors for vitamin B12 malabsorption.

What Causes Vitamin B12 Malabsorption? B12 Patch

Vitamin B12 malabsorption

Several factors can interfere with your ability to digest vitamin B12, regardless of your diet. Vitamin B12 malabsorption can result from autoimmune disorders, old age, gastritis, or certain medications.

  • Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disorder which prevents you from manufacturing or accessing intrinsic factor correctly, resulting in severe vitamin B12 deficiency.  Sometimes, pernicious anemia is caused by gastrointestinal damage (atrophic gastritis) from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Old age is another risk factor for vitamin B12 malabsorption, as elderly individuals often do not make enough digestive enzymes to break down vitamin B12.
  • Surgeries involving removal of the ileum, such as gastric bypass surgery, also impair your ability to digest vitamin B12 naturally, necessitating vitamin B12 supplementation.
  • If you take protein pump inhibitors (PPIs) for GERD, or metformin for diabetes, then you may be at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency, as certain medications interfere with vitamin B12 absorption.
  • Scientists have found a high correlation between various autoimmune disorders and increased risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Vitamin B12 malabsorption is one of many damaging effects of alcoholism, as recognized by many scientists.

Treating vitamin B12 malabsorption

If vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by an underlying condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or acid reflux, then it is necessary to treat the primary illness in order to improve your ability to digest vitamin B12.

However, in the case of autoimmune disorders such as pernicious anemia, where intrinsic factor antibodies are diagnosed as the cause of vitamin B12 malabsorption, there is no “cure.”

In any case, only immediate and complete vitamin B12 supplementation can effective raise your vitamin B12 levels back to where they should be.

To maintain healthy levels of vitamin B12 in the blood, and avoid debilitating symptoms of fatigue and chronic pain, it may be necessary to continue with a regimen of non-dietary vitamin B12 for life.

Your turn!

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

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Like this? Read more:

Absorbing Vitamin B12, a Metabolic Gastrointestinal Journey

Sources:

How Is Vitamin B12 Absorbed by the Body?

Vitamin B12

Parietal Cells in Health and Diseases

Image(s) courtesy of Piyachok Thawornmat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


6 Steps of Vitamin B12 Absorption, in a Nutshell

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

 

 

Patients of vitamin B12 deficiency from pernicious anemia often wonder exactly what gets in the way of vitamin B12 absorption- why is it that you can eat rich sources of vitamin B12 found in beef, fish, and chicken, and still suffer from chronic fatigue, muscle pain, memory loss, and disorientation from low vitamin B12 levels?

6 Steps of Vitamin B12 Absorption, in a Nutshell- B12 Patch

How do we absorb vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 absorption begins in the mouth. When you eat animal-based foods such as lean beef, fish, and poultry, an R-protein in your saliva called haptocorrin, also known as transcobalamin-1, binds to the vitamin B12, creating vitamin B12-haptocorrin complex.

Step 2 of vitamin B12 absorption takes place in the esophagus, where the new vitamin B12-haptocorrin duo travels to the stomach.

In step 3, the vitamin B12 you ate is protected from caustic elements of the stomach, such as hydrochloric acid, which is produced by the parietal cells of the stomach. The stomach also produces intrinsic factor (IF), a protein which will be crucial in binding and digesting vitamin B12.

Next, in step 4 of vitamin B12 absorption, intrinsic factor and vitamin B12-haptocorrin travel from the stomach to the duodenum, the uppermost section of the small intestine, where vitamin B12 then separates from the R-protein and binds with intrinsic factor, forming a new compound- IF-Vitamin B12 complex.

In step 5, upon reaching the bottommost part of the small intestines, the ileum breaks down intrinsic factor, and releases vitamin B12, which then binds to transcobalamin-2.

Finally, in step 6, vitamin B12 is directed to the blood supply, the liver, bone marrow, or to several other cells of the body which require vitamin B12 for healthy maintenance.

What causes vitamin B12 malabsorption?

This will be covered in the tomorrow’s post…

Your turn!

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, Facebook, or Google+.

Like this? Read more:

Absorbing Vitamin B12, a Metabolic Gastrointestinal Journey

Which Tests check Absorption of Vitamin B12?

Sources:

How Is Vitamin B12 Absorbed by the Body?

Vitamin B12

Parietal Cells in Health and Diseases

Image(s) courtesy of dream designs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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