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Posts Tagged ‘intrinsic factor (IF)’

Four Reasons to check your Vitamin B12 Levels with Crohn’s Disease

Monday, February 20th, 2012



If you suffer from Crohn’s disease, then check your vitamin B12 levels often.  One side effect of Crohn’s is pernicious anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency, in addition to Crohn’s symptoms like stomach cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Not surprisingly, there are several reasons why vitamin B12 deficiency occurs with Crohn’s disease.  Here are the four top reasons to check your vitamin B12 levels if you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Four Reasons to check your Vitamin B12 Levels with Crohn’s Disease

1- Symptoms of Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease, sometimes called ileitis, is an illness of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that damages the bottommost part of the small intestinal, the terminal ileum.  Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include chronic diarrhea caused by swelling of the small intestine, excruciating stomach cramps caused by intestinal strictures, fever, weight loss, and rectal bleeding.

The ileum is an important part of your digestive system for vitamin B12 absorption- without it, your body would be unable to extract vitamin B12 (cobalamin) and dispense it into your blood supply.  

If Crohn’s disease has caused irreparable inflammation of your terminal ileum, you are at high risk for symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unclear thinking, or “brain fog”
  • Muscular twitching
  • Painful tingling and numbness in hands and feet
  • Sore, red tongue
  • Burning mouth sensations
  • Frequent clumsiness and stumbling

Once vitamin B12 deficiency is diagnosed, you may choose to take vitamin B12 shots, which are only available upon prescription.

2- Crohn’s disease medications

Whenever digestive disorders are present, vitamin B12 levels are low.  Certain medicines used to treat Crohn’s disease may cause symptoms that typically interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and acid reflux. 

These medications often include anti-inflammatory drugs such as mesalamine medicines and immune system suppressors, such as Methotrexate (Rheumatrex).

Crohn’s- 9 Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) Myths to Ignore

Only vitamin B12 supplements that bypass the digestive system can provide the benefits of vitamin B12.

Left untreated, pernicious anemia from B12 deficiency can cause neurological damage, osteoporosis, and in extreme cases, death.

3- Gastrointestinal (GI) surgery

FOUR REASONS TO CHECK YOUR VITAMIN B12 LEVELS WITH CROHN’S DISEASE, B12 PATCHAny GI surgery that involves removal or reduction of the ileum results in vitamin B12 deficiency.  In Crohn’s disease, resection surgeries such as ileostomy necessitate lifelong supplementation of prescribed vitamin B12 shots.

Similarly, gastric bypass patients can no longer digest vitamin B12 in the stomach, and must get vitamin B12 injections indefinitely.

Sometimes, even routine vitamin B12 shots don’t provide full relief from  B12 deficiency symptoms like fatigue, depression, nerve pain, and brain fog. 

In such cases, many opt for nonprescription OTC vitamin B12 for extra energy and mental stamina between vitamin B12 jabs.

4- Crohn’s and diet

People suffering from IBD (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis) are required to follow restrictive diets excluding many foods that may irritate the digestive system.  Fruits and vegetables that are uncooked may be red flag items, in addition to food sources of vitamin B12, such as meat, poultry, fish, milk, and eggs.

Ten Foods to avoid if you have Inflammatory Bowel Disorder

Additionally, stomachaches, nausea, and diarrhea make it hard for Crohn’s disease sufferers to eat nutritious, filling meals.  As a result, people with Crohn’s often suffer from excess weight loss and malnourishment.

One of the leading types of malnourishment today is pernicious anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency.

Besides Crohn’s disease patients, other people at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency are:

  • Diabetics on metformin
  • GERD patients using protein pump inhibitors (PPIs)
  • Patients with secondary gastrointestinal symptoms, such as fibromyalgia, celiac disease, autism, or migraine sufferers
  • Gastric bypass patients
  • Elderly individuals
  • Alcoholics
  • Vegans

Please tell us…

Are you a Crohn’s disease patient?  If so, what vitamin B12 supplements do you use?

Please tell us if you have found this article helpful and informative.  As always, we welcome your comments!

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Please share this article with your friends, family, or anybody you care about!

Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency and Crohn’s disease:

Gastrointestinal Surgery for Crohn’s (IBD) and B12 Warnings

Gut Bugs:Winning the Bacteria Battle


Crohn’s Disease – National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

Crohn’s Disease- MayoClinic.com


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If Vitamin B12 Deficiency Mimics Multiple Sclerosis, How do you tell the Difference?

Thursday, January 12th, 2012



Many studies show similarities between the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency and multiple sclerosis (MS).  There is also a very high rate of B12 deficiency among people diagnosed with MS.  How, then, does one differentiate between pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency) and multiple sclerosis?


What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects your central nervous system- your brain and spinal cord.  It typically strikes young adults between the ages of 20-40, most of them women.  

The exact cause of MS is unknown, but most scientists believe it is an autoimmune disorder.  With multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune reaction attacks myelin, a fatty substance that insulates your nerve fibers responsible for transmitting messages to the rest of your body.  

Signs of demyelination are random lesions, or plaques (sclerosis) in the brain and spinal cord, in multiple areas, thus the term “multiple sclerosis.”

What is B12 deficiency?

Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs when your body is unable to maintain sufficient stores of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in the blood.  There are several reasons this may happen, such as not eating food sources of vitamin B12 (meat, fish, and milk), or having a gastrointestinal disorder that interferes with vitamin B12 absorption. 

With pernicious anemia (PA), your body cannot make intrinsic factor (IF), a protein necessary for digesting vitamin B12, due to an autoimmune disorder.  

Among its many other benefits, vitamin B12 is essential for building up the fatty myelin sheath.  One of the symptoms of PA is demyelination, the same type of brain damage that occurs with MS.

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency- pernicious anemia are both autoimmune disorders.

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia both involve damage to the nervous system’s myelin sheath.

What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?

The earliest symptoms of MS may include:

  • Muscular weakness in one or more limbs
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Loss of balance
  • Vision problems or eye pain
  • Slurred speech

As the disease advances, symptoms worsen, including:

  • Chronic fatigue, despite getting plenty of rest and not overexerting yourself
  • Hypersensitivity to heat, such as hot showers or baths
  • Muscular spasms in the legs and arms
  • Bladder or bowel control problems
  • Lightheadedness, or vertigo caused by nerve damage
  • Cognitive impairment- “brain fog,” slowed thinking, lack of concentration, or memory loss
  • Vision problems- blurring or graying of vision, or temporary blindness in one eye
  • Painful “pins and needles” sensations, numbness, itching, or burning
  • Speech and swallowing problems caused by damaged nerves
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty walking without stumbling, caused by muscle weakness, spasticity, or loss of balance from vertigo
  • Paralysis

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

The most common symptoms of B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia are:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Painful “pins and needles” or numbness in hands and feet
  • Sore, swollen red tongue
  • Burning mouth sensation
  • Difficulty walking without stumbling
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • “Brain fog”
  • Shortness of breath

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia both cause nerve damage, including painful tingling or numbness in the hands and feet and impaired gait.

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia both cause cognitive impairment, like brain fog, memory loss, and low concentration.

Which tests diagnose multiple sclerosis?

There is more than one test used to confirm MS, and your doctor will need to use the process of elimination to exclude other illnesses.  Some common tests and indicators are:

  • MRI scan indicating at least two incidences myelin damage- scar tissue (lesions)
  • Neurological exams
  • Blood tests
  • Spinal tap
  • Evoked potentials, an electrical test of your nervous impulses

Which tests diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency?

Only one test is required to diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency- a blood test indicating low blood serum levels of vitamin B12.  Patients of pernicious anemia require routine blood tests in order to monitor their B12 levels.

What’s the best treatment for multiple sclerosis?

There is no cure for MS, but various medications are helpful for dealing with the symptoms.

  • Some prescribed medicines work by controlling your body’s autoimmune response, thus reducing the frequency and severity of MS symptoms.
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a controversial surgery used to treat debilitating tremors in people with MS. Complications may include paralysis, loss of vision, or loss of speech.
  • Alternative medicine options that benefits MS patients include physical therapy, exercise like yoga or tai chi, acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation, massage, and vitamin supplementation.

What’s the best treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency?

There are many kinds of B12 supplements on the market, but it’s important to be certain if you are able to digest vitamin B12 in the stomach. If you lack intrinsic factor, or if you’ve had gastrointestinal surgery like gastric bypass, then you will not benefit from dietary forms of vitamin B12.

  • Physicians normally prescribe a series of B12 shots for patients with pernicious anemia.  These vitamin B12 injections require a prescription, and not all health care providers cover extensive supplementation of vitamin B12 shots.
  • Sublingual vitamin B12 pills that dissolve under the tongue are another option, although they are not very effective, and they often require dosages of three times per day.

Read more about vitamin B12 symptoms:

Vitamin B12 Deficiency- 4 Causes, 1 Solution

Absorbing Vitamin B12, a Metabolic Gastrointestinal Journey

Sore Burning Tongue, Dry Mouth, and Weird Tastes- What’s the Cause?


Multiple sclerosis

Vitamin B12, demyelination, remyelination and repair in multiple sclerosis

WebMD Multiple Sclerosis Guide – Better Information for Better Health

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