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Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian diet and vitamin B12 deficiency’

Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Can it be Genetic?

Monday, October 28th, 2013



Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur because of diet, medication, or gastrointestinal surgery, but it can also be hereditary. Genetic pernicious anemia is a cause of vitamin B12 deficiency that sometimes slips right off the radar, yet can produce debilitating symptoms of extreme fatigue, disorientation, muscular pain, and depression.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Can it be Genetic?

What causes vitamin B12 deficiency?

Listed are just some of the most common causes of vitamin B12 deficiency. For a more complete list, see vitamin B12 deficiency causes.


Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal-based food sources such as fish, chicken, beef, and dairy products. The foods that have the most vitamin B12 are shellfish and organ meats. So if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, then it’s vitally important to supplement with vitamin B12 in order to prevent becoming anemic.


Certain medications can inhibit your ability to digest vitamin B12 from foods; these include PPIs for acid reflux and heartburn, metformin for diabetes, and certain antidepressants.

25 Medications that Cause Vitamin B12 Deficiency


Also, if you’ve ever had bariatric surgery (gastric bypass) or gastrointestinal surgery for Crohn’s disease, then you are required to take lifelong vitamin B12 supplements.

Autoimmune diseases

The more autoimmune disorders you have, the likelier your chances of developing new ailments caused by a weak immune system. Vitamin B12 deficiency from pernicious anemia is one such autoimmune disease that can occur alone or along with other genetic autoimmune dysfunctions.

Genetic pernicious anemia is caused by a lack of intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme needed to absorb vitamin B12.

Pernicious anemia can occur as an autoimmune disorder, or it can develop as a comorbid condition to other autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or celiac disease.

If you eat a healthy diet of lean meats and seafood, and you don’t fall into any of the above-mentioned categories, then your cause of vitamin B12 deficiency may be genetic.

Is vitamin B12 deficiency serious?

Vitamin B12 is crucial for many important biochemical responses throughout your body. Vitamin B12 aids in red blood cell formation, and also sustains healthy neurological functioning.

Vitamin B12 boosts cellular energy, supports a good metabolism, and helps to regulate levels of homocysteine, a hormone linked with heart attack and stroke.

Untreated, long-term vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia can result severe irreversible damage to your nervous system, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, cognitive impairments, and sometimes, death.

Getting tested

Off the bat, your family medical history can tell you if you’re prone to vitamin B12 deficiency from genetic pernicious anemia. If anybody in your family suffers from pernicious anemia or any autoimmune disorder, then your chances of developing severe vitamin B12 deficiency are higher than normal.

You can test for vitamin B12 deficiency easily with one blood test, but the results are not always accurate. In diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency, your doctor should pay attention to the symptoms you’re experiencing and how well you’re responding to vitamin B12 supplementation.

Please tell us…

Do you or your parents have vitamin B12 deficiency? Have you found a genetic link to that or other autoimmune disorders?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.
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Image courtesy of ddpavumba/freedigitalphotos

Children and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

There are children who are brain-damaged as a result of a vitamin B12 deficiency.  Some of these children are born with an inability to properly metabolize B12, and this condition was not detected at birth.  In other cases, they were born to mothers who are overly concerned with their health, who exclude animal proteins from their diets.  Such diets are known as vegetarian or vegan.

Women today are concerned with unnecessary hormone injections in cows, chickens and pigs.  The implications of these hormones on humans are not yet known.  In addition, documentaries have reported that most farm animals are mistreated and bombarded with antibiotics, then sold to grocery stores for consumers.  Who would want to knowingly ingest such an animal and risk developing an antibiotic resistant illness?

Our generation is also well aware of the medical literature that reports higher mortality rates due to obesity, which recommends the reduction of fat intake.  For all these reasons, it would seem that the only way to be healthy is to eliminate animal proteins from our diets, right?

The answer is: wrong.  Animal protein is the only natural source for vitamin B12.  A woman who eats a strict vegan diet has no way of obtaining vitamin B12, unless she chooses to supplement.  This puts her at grave risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency.

A mother who does not consume any animal products is liable to put her baby in grave danger, especially if she chooses to nurse exclusively.  She can eat as many healthy fruits, vegetables and nuts as she can, and still be deficient in vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for nerve cell formation.  A vitamin B12 deficiency in a growing baby can cause neurological problems, developmental delays, and mental retardation.

In one case, a baby of a vegetarian mother ceased talking and stopped growing at eight months old.  Fortunately, a few months later one doctor diagnosed the vitamin B12 deficiency before permanent brain damage could set in.

Studies demonstrate that 80% of all people who are on vegan diets for at least two years have low levels of plasma B12.  Therefore, doctors need to test pregnant women for a vitamin B12 deficiency in order to protect unborn children from harm.

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