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Posts Tagged ‘pernicious anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency’

Pernicious Anemia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Which Causes Which?

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012



People who’ve been diagnosed with pernicious anemia have a lot of questions…One is, “Is pernicious anemia a symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency, or is it the other way around?” In order to explain, it helps to understand a few things about how vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia occur.

Pernicious Anemia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Which Causes Which? B12 Patch

What is pernicious anemia?

Pernicious anemia is a lack of red blood cells due to an inability to digest vitamin B12 from the foods you eat.  People get pernicious anemia when they are unable to absorb vitamin B12 through the digestive system, resulting in vitamin B12 deficiency.

Other names for pernicious anemia are vitamin B12 deficiency anemia and megaloblastic anemia, meaning that hemoglobin count decreases due to deformed red blood cells.

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is one of the B complex vitamins. Vitamin B12 is essential for neurological health, in addition to red blood cell production, cognitive functioning, and energy production.

Sources of vitamin B12 include beef, chicken, fish, cheese, and eggs

What causes pernicious anemia?

There are two possible causes of vitamin B12 malabsorption:

  • Damage to the stomach lining (gastritis)
  • Autoimmune condition that attacks intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme required in order to absorb vitamin B12

Any time there is damage to the stomach, vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia are likely to occur. Risk factors for this type of pernicious anemia include gastrointestinal disorders (Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and fibromyalgia), bariatric surgery (gastric bypass), alcoholism, and frequent vomiting from migraines.

Risk factors for developing autoimmune pernicious anemia include immune response disorders such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and celiac disease.

(Also read: Anemia: Frequently Asked Questions, Answered)

Are there any other causes of vitamin B12 deficiency?

Yes- pernicious anemia is just one way to develop vitamin B12 deficiency.  There are other possible causes, including:

  • Vitamin B12 malabsorption from medications, such as metformin or protein pump inhibitors (PPIs)
  • Vegan diet
  • Removal of the ileum (ileostomy)

(Also read: Vitamin Deficiencies and the People who are affected by them)

    What are the symptoms of pernicious anemia-vitamin B12 deficiency?

    Symptoms range for each individual, depending on the severity and duration of vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia.

    Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

    • Chronic fatigue
    • Depression
    • Confusion (brain fog)
    • Memory loss
    • Anxiety
    • Paranoia
    • Hallucinations
    • Dizziness, vertigo
    • Muscle spasms
    • Muscle pain
    • Painful numbness and tingling in the extremities (hands, feet, arms, legs)
    • Partial paralysis
    • Sore, burning red tongue
    • Altered sense of taste
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Tinnitus (ear ringing)
    • Vision problems
    • Poor muscle coordination
    • Difficulty grasping objects without dropping them
    • Difficulty walking without stumbling
    • Difficulty balancing on one foot
    • Restless legs syndrome
    • Infertility
    • Frequent miscarriages
    • Poor bladder control

    Diagnosis and treatment

    To diagnose pernicious anemia, your doctor will run a few blood tests, including vitamin B12 blood count and intrinsic factor antibody. However, symptoms indicating vitamin B12 deficiency the most conclusive in reaching a diagnosis, as many vitamin B12 blood screenings are inaccurate.

    For treatment, doctors generally prescribe several rounds of vitamin B12 injections, to be given over a predetermined time period.

    Additionally, you may boost vitamin B12 levels quicker by taking extra doses of over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 as a supplement to vitamin B12 shots.

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    Like this? Read more:

    Tired All the Time? 30 Likely Causes of Daytime Fatigue

    Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid- What’s the Connection?


    Pernicious anemia: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

    Image(s) courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Can Vitamin B12 Deficiency Cause Brain Lesions?

    Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

    B12 deficiency makes you feel tired and unfocused, as if your brain is melting.  It’s not your imagination- brain lesions from vitamin B12 deficiency, as seen through MRIs, are visible proof of the neurological damage caused when low vitamin B12 (cobalamin) levels turn into pernicious anemia.

    Vitamin B12 and the Myelin Sheath

    One of the many benefits of vitamin B12 includes its ability to protect your nerve cells from harm.  Myelin is a fatty substance that surrounds your brain and spinal cord nerves, forming a shield, or sheath, that allows neurons to send nerve impulse speedily and efficiently without exposing themselves to outside dangers.  Vitamin B12 helps your body maintain your myelin sheath, thus ensuring continuous communication among your many nerve fibers.

    With vitamin B12 deficiency, demyelination (the breaking down of myelin) occurs, resulting in slower nervous impulses and eventual neurological damage.  Besides vitamin B12 deficiency, another illness that causes demyelination is multiple sclerosis (MS).  Also read: Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Movement Disorders- How They Relate

    Symptoms of demyelination

    Some vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms that indicate nerve damage include:

    • Painful tingling and numbness in hands and feet
    • Difficulty walking
    • Poor muscular control
    • Muscular feebleness
    • Shooting pains
    • Frequent clumsiness
    • Poor bladder control
    • Poor vision
    • Chronic fatigue

    Brain lesions caused by vitamin B12 deficiency

    Several scientific studies have proven that the appearance of “cerebral white-matter lesions” in an MRI may indicate nerve damage caused by vitamin B12 deficiency.

    In a 2009 study on plasma vitamin B12 and brain lesions, scientists attributed elevated homocysteine levels (a side effect of vitamin B12 deficiency) to a high correlation of white-matter brain lesions, noting a steady increase of severe brain lesions with declining levels of vitamin B12 in the blood.

    In a separate report on encephalomyelopathy due to vitamin B12 deficiency, a 39-year-old man who had pernicious anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency was admitted to hospital after suffering seizures, partial paralysis, vision problems, gait ataxia, and numbness in his extremities (legs, feet, arms, and hands).  Anti-epilepsy drugs reduced some of the symptoms, but not all.

    Scientists then discovered multiple brain lesions in his MRI, and prescribed vitamin B12 supplements.

    Supplementation of vitamin B12 provided the significant results that the scientists were expecting.

    Scientists concluded that vitamin B12 deficiency should be considered as a cause of seizures, in addition to epilepsy.

    Please tell us…

    • Do you suffer from weak muscles, frequent numbness, fatigue, and chronic pain?
    • Have you had your B12 levels checked?
    • Do you currently receive vitamin B12 shots, but wish you still had more energy?

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

    Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms:

    Tired of being Tired all the Time…It’s Tiring!

    Painful Tingling in Hands and Feet- What’s Up with That?

    6 Degrees of Vitamin B12- B12 Deficiency and Autoimmune Disease

    Balance your B12, Balance your Nerves


    Plasma vitamin B12 status and cerebral white-matter lesions- PubMed, NCBI

    [Encephalomyelopathy due to vitamin B12 deficiency with seizures as a predominant symptom]- PubMed, NCBI

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