Recently, scientists discovered an ancient mutant gene putting vitamin B12 deficiency around the timeline of 11,600 B.C., causing a rare form of vitamin B12 anemia known as Imerslund-Gräsbeck Syndrome (IGS) – the second-oldest disease-causing mutant gene known to mankind.
What causes Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome (IGS)?
According to researchers, mutations in either the amnionless (AMN) or the cubilin (CUBN) gene cause this rare form of vitamin B12 deficiency (IGS), which inhibits vitamin B12 absorption in children born with either mutated gene. Children born with IGS lack intrinsic factor, a chemical required to digest vitamin B12 in food sources, such as beef, chicken, fish, cheese, and eggs, and eventually show symptoms of severe juvenile cobalamin deficiency. This discovery adds to our knowledge that B12 deficiency is an inherited disorder.
What are the symptoms of Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome (IGS)?
IGS originated in the Middle East, affecting children of Jewish, Turkish, or Arabic descent. Children with (IGS) vitamin B12 deficiency exhibit the following symptoms:
- Increased risk for infection
- Everyday fatigue, regardless of diet or sufficient sleep
- Difficulty concentrating, symptoms similar to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Partial paralysis
Untreated, childhood vitamin B12 deficiency can also lead to severe nerve damage. A blood test is required to diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, and treatments include constant vitamin B12 injections, as prescribed by your physician- possibly for the rest of your life.
Who is at risk for getting vitamin B12 deficiency?
Aside from individuals with the inherited vitamin B12 deficiency disorder, other people that are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Anybody who has had gastrointestinal surgery, such as gastric bypass, involving the removal of the ileum, a portion of the small intestines required for vitamin B12 absorption
- Anybody taking medications that inhibit absorption of vitamin B12, including the diabetes drug Metformin, acid reflux medication, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications
- Vegans who don’t supplement with vitamin B12 regularly
- Many patients of autoimmune disorders that affect the stomach, such as fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, or celiac disease
- Elderly individuals who lack sufficient stomach acids to digest vitamin B12
Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency causes: