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Posts Tagged ‘vitamin b12 absorption’

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?


How Is Vitamin B12 Absorbed by the Body?

Vitamin B12

Parietal Cells in Health and Diseases

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

America’s B12 Deficiency: Recap of Dr. Oz Show, Part 3

Friday, January 18th, 2013



Last year, Dr. Oz aired America’s B12 Deficiency, a highly informative and eye-opening program focusing on the increasing rate of vitamin B12 deficiency anemia in our society. Here is a review of part 3 of that show.

America’s B12 Deficiency: Recap of Dr. Oz Show, Part 1

(Continued from America’s B12 Deficiency: Recap of Dr. Oz Show, Part 2)

Here is a review of part 3 of that show.

Dr. Oz begins this segment with a demonstration about vitamin B12, explaining that when you eat animal-based protein foods like meat and fish,  your body has to first separate the vitamin from the protein, which it does through an R-protein (trans-cobalamin) which occurs naturally in your saliva, which protects vitamin B12 from your stomach acids.

Vitamin B12 malabsorption

For young people, vitamin B12 digestion begins without a hitch, but for older individuals, a reduction in digestive enzymes makes it difficult, sometimes impossible, to separate the B12 from the protein and protect it from caustic elements in the stomach. As a result, vitamin B12 dissolves, instead of being absorbed.

For the demonstration, he shows how vitamin B12 in people aged 50 and over stays bound to transcobalamin, and resists separating and diffusing into the digestive system.

“Once the B12 breaks away, your body can absorb it. Otherwise, this will go right through your intestinal system, because this reflects your stomach, goes right out your poop. You’re just wasting money.”

Guest Kate Geagan pipes in, explaining that the best natural source of vitamin B12 is in seafood and meat, as evidenced by the low rate of vitamin B12 deficiency in countries such as Japan where people thrive on shrimp and other fish products. She points out that as a result of a shift towards vegan or low-fat dieting, many Americans may be experiencing a rising incidence of vitamin B12 malabsorption.

“…coupled with changes in stomach acid, changes in physiology as we age, we’re not absorbing effectively even what we are taking in.”

Alcoholism and B12

Regarding alcoholism and vitamin B12 deficiency, guest Dr. Katz explains that alcohol impairs the  gastrointestinal system, affects the liver and pancreas, and over time, excessive alcohol use also causes atrophy of the stomach, one of many causes of vitamin B12 malabsorption. Coupled with the fact that most alcoholics tend to eat a non-nutritious diet, the risk factor for malnutrition in people suffering from alcoholism is extremely high.

Says Dr. Oz to the audience, “There’s a  B12 deficiency, it is a big deal… but the good news, although it’s serious, it can be reversed…”

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:

Top Ten Signs of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency a Real Illness?

Image courtesy of David Berkowitz/ Wikimedia

Absorbing Vitamin B12

Sunday, September 9th, 2012




How do you know if you’re absorbing vitamin B12? Just because you eat plenty of foods that are rich in vitamin B12 (cobalamin), that doesn’t mean you’re getting all the B12 you need for great health. Sometimes, things happen that interfere with your ability to digest vitamin B12, creating an obstacle to absorbing vitamin B12 naturally. This happens more often than you realize…

Absorbing vitamin B12- Vitamin B12 Patch

Why you need to take vitamin B12

You may be asking yourself, “Doesn’t my body produce vitamin B12 on its own? It makes lots of other vitamins.”

The short answer is, “No.” While you are able to store plenty of vitamin B12 in your liver for years to come, your body relies on a constant influx of vitamin B12 from dietary sources like lean beef, chicken, fish, and dairy foods, which it then uses to sustain energy levels, maintain a healthy nervous system, and regulate hormones.

The long answer is more complicated. This constant replenishment of vitamin B12 into your blood supply relies on intrinsic factor for absorbing vitamin B12 and carrying it through the digestive system. As long as you are always able to break down vitamin B12, then you are all right. However, if you are among a large percentage of people who cannot produce the intrinsic factor enzyme, then you must supplement constantly with vitamin B12 supplements, in order to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency.

What is vitamin B12 deficiency?

Whenever you’re not absorbing vitamin B12, you’re drawing it from your liver. Eventually, this store of essential vitamin B12 runs out, and you begin to notice the effects of vitamin B12.

The initial symptoms of vitamin B12 include:

  • Severe fatigue
  • “Brain fog” disorientation
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Painful tingling and numbness in the extremities, such as hands and feet
  • Sore, red tongue

Over time, if untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to severe neurological damage and a gradual depletion of red blood cells. Also, since vitamin B12 helps to regulate homocysteine, a hormone linked with heart attack and stroke, your risk for cardiovascular disease may increase. In rare occasions, infants solely breastfed by vegan mothers not absorbing vitamin B12 show signs of failure to thrive and feebleness.

What causes vitamin B12 malabsorption?

Many different factors can keep you from absorbing vitamin B12 naturally from foods.

They include:

  • Family history for pernicious anemia
  • History for autoimmune disorder, such as fibromyalgia or celiac disease
  • Damage to the digestive system caused by acid reflux, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Gastrointestinal surgery, such as bariatric surgery or ileostomy
  • Medications, such as PPIs for GERD, or metformin for diabetes
  • Old age
  • Alcoholism

Absorbing Vitamin B12, a Metabolic Gastrointestinal Journey

Treating vitamin B12 malabsorption

If you’re not absorbing vitamin B12, then it’s important to understand which kinds of vitamin B12 supplements to take, and which ones to avoid.

Most likely, your doctor will prescribe vitamin B12 shots. These are helpful, as they dispense vitamin B12 directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the need for absorbing vitamin B12 in the stomach.

Certain side effects of vitamin B12 shots are, obviously, pain, as cobalamin requires insertion into the thick fleshy tissue behind the thigh. Sometimes, bruising may occur.

Vitamin B12 shots are also often impractical. In most states, vitamin B12 injections require a prescription, and doctors are sometimes hesitant to prescribe enough monthly doses to relieve all the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Instead, many patients opt to supplement with extra vitamin B12 on their own.  Certain inexpensive over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements are helpful for “topping off” vitamin B12 between shots. For optimum health and relief from symptoms, find non-dietary vitamin B12 supplements that distribute cobalamin directly into the bloodstream, not through the digestive system.

Please tell us…
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:

Getting Enough Vitamin B12? Three Reasons Why You Might Not Be

Vitamin Deficiencies can drive you Crazy- Seriously! Part 1

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Is Chronic Fatigue your Middle Name? Maybe it’s…

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012



Does it seem like chronic fatigue follows you around like a sick puppy? It’s not your imagination. You could have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), or one of several other maladies whose symptoms include constant tiredness, brain drain, and general achiness.


What is chronic fatigue?

Try this: find a stairwell, run up and down twenty times without breaking for a breather, and now stop.

Feel tired, wiped out, and lightheaded? Good! That means you’re healthy. It’s natural to feel fatigued after a strenuous workout.

People with chronic fatigue always feel exhausted, from morning to nightfall.  Forget running up the stairs- just running an errand to the supermarket can leave you out for the count before noon.

Only a doctor can diagnose your health problems; here are some conditions to look out for that cause fatigue.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

More than just tiredness, chronic fatigue syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that causes debilitating physical pain and cognitive disorders.  Fatigue is constant, regardless of having slept well the night before or not overexerting oneself in physical activities.

Many people diagnosed with CFS also suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency, fibromyalgia, or celiac disease.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency is an often-overlooked cause of fatigue for many people.  Unfortunately, many doctors don’t screen routinely for low vitamin B12 levels, so remember to ask for a blood test, specifically for vitamin B12 deficiency.


Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause severe, irreversible neurological damage, dementia, and increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

9 Conditions that Mimic Fibromyalgia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

If you think B12 deficiency is not common, then you’re mistaken. It’s one of the leading nutritional deficiencies in the US.  There are several reasons for this:

  • There has been a recent spike in gastric bypass surgeries, as they become more affordable and socially acceptable.  Any type of surgery that invades your digestive system ultimately leads to poor vitamin B12 absorption, but most surgeons fail to warn patients beforehand.  By interfering with your ability to produce intrinsic factor, an enzyme crucial for digesting vitamin B12 from food, a large number of gastric bypass surgeries result in severe depletion of vitamin B12 levels in the blood.
  • Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal-based foods like beef, poultry, fish, and eggs. With the increasing popularity of vegan dieting, we have also seen a rise in vitamin B12 deficiencies.
  • Certain drugs inhibit your ability to digest vitamin B12; these include the diabetes medication metformin and GERD treatments, protein pump inhibitors (PPIs), which prevent stomach acid production.


In the movie WALL-E, Disney animators envisioned an armchair society for our future, in which all daytime activities- work, play, even dressing- could be controlled with the touch of a button, eliminating the need to leave your house…or your seat.

In fact, idleness is a major source of chronic illness for an increasing number of people.  Avoidance of exercise is more likely to cause fatigue than the actual exercise itself. The deciding factor is how much you exercise, and which activities you choose, not whether you do it at all.


For tips on exercising with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, read 10 Fibromyalgia-Friendly Exercises that Boost Energy- You can do it!

Not getting enough sleep

Fess up- when was the last time you slept eight hours in a row? The fact is- most of us don’t get the bare minimum of quality nighttime sleep that we need to prevent fatigue, stress, and chronic illness.

Current research points to electronic overstimulation as a possible reason for fatigue and insomnia.  We’re always “on.” Handheld devices, cell phones, Bluetooth technology, iPod music players, e-books, laptops, tablets, and a never-ending drone of cable televised media keep us on edge, engaged,  from morning ‘til night.


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

To fall asleep quicker and get the most rest, follow these tips:

  • Avoid afternoon naps, even short ones.
  • Cut down on caffeinated beverages.
  • Take vitamin B12 for more daytime energy
  • Exercise every day
  • Put a curfew on all electronic devices, including your television.


Clinical depression is a possible source of fatigue, as well.  If sadness and a sense of hopelessness accompany constant fatigue, then see a doctor immediately.  Many antidepressants are available that are safe and produce no side effects.

Also, ask for vitamin B12 deficiency screening, as depression and anxiety are common symptoms of low vitamin B12 levels.

Please tell us…

Do you experience overwhelming fatigue every day, despite sleeping well?

Does you fatigue occur after exercising, or does it happen all the time, even when you don’t do physical activities?

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+.

Read more about chronic fatigue

Chronically Pained? Here’s your Essential Chronic Pain Checklist…

10 Celebrities with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


imagerymajesticMichal Marcol, Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos, Microsoft.com

Vitamin B12 Deficiency-13 Illnesses that Block B12 Absorption

Monday, April 23rd, 2012



Would you know if you had vitamin B12 deficiency? Sometimes, vitamin B12 malabsorption results from a vegan diet, or as part of the aging process.  Often, vitamin B12 deficiency occurs with autoimmune and gastrointestinal disorders like pernicious anemia, Crohn’s disease, and fibromyalgia, making vitamin B12 deficiency one of the most widespread nutritional problems in the US.  Do you have one of the 13 illnesses associated with low vitamin B12 absorption?

Vitamin B12 Deficiency-13 Illnesses that Block B12 Absorption

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is essential for promoting neurological health, boosting stamina, enhancing metabolic functioning, supporting cognitive skills, and sustaining heart health.

The following symptoms correlate with low vitamin B12 levels:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Forgetfulness
  • Brain fog (confusion)
  • Decreased attention span
  • Vision problems
  • Painful tingling, numbness, and burning in the hands, feet, and mouth
  • Gait disorder (difficulty walking)
  • Decreased motor skills
  • Muscular twitches
  • Sore muscles and joints
  • Tinnitus (ear ringing)
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Acid reflux
  • Heart palpitations
  • Poor tolerance for aerobic exercise
  • Increased risk for heart attack and stroke
  • Osteoporosis

8 Ailments Linked with Gastritis, including B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 Deficiency-13 Illnesses that Block B12 Absorption

Diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency

Certain illnesses mask the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, contributing to mass under-diagnoses.  Many patients of chronic illness who already experience symptoms like fatigue, muscular pain, or mental sluggishness may not realize an underlying problem absorbing vitamin B12, and may never receive a blood screening for low vitamin B12 levels.

If you suffer from one of the following illness correlated with or causing vitamin B12 deficiency, please request a simple blood test immediately.

  1. Pernicious anemia (intrinsic factor anemia)
  2. Crohn’s disease
  3. Vitamin B12 Deficiency-13 Illnesses that Block B12 AbsorptionFibromyalgia
  4. Postsurgical malabsorption (gastric bypass)
  5. Atrophic gastritis
  6. Cystic fibrosis
  7. Celiac disease
  8. Tropical sprue
  9. Tuberculosis
  10. Helicobacter pylori infection
  11. Whipple’s disease
  12. Pancreatitis
  13. AIDS

9 Conditions that Mimic Fibromyalgia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Please tell us…

Do you have one of the conditions associated with low vitamin B12 levels?  Have you been diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, as well? Has supplementation with vitamin B12 reduced any of your symptoms?

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+.

Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency

Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency an Autoimmune Disorder? Yup.

Is an Allergy also an Autoimmune Disease? When the Immune System goes awry

Celiac and B12- Celiac Disease and Vitamin B12 Deficiency


Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Lifescript.com

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12


13 Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Crohn’s Disease

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012



Crohn’s disease is a chronic bowel disorder that causes damage to the intestinal tract, leading to vitamin deficiencies, severe stomach pains, diarrhea, and fever.  Doctors recommend following a restrictive diet for treating Crohn’s disease, in addition to adopting a strict vitamin regimen.  Here are the top 13 vitamins and minerals recommended for Crohn’s disease patients.

13 Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Crohn’s Disease, B12 Patch

Vitamin B12

In order to digest vitamin B12 (cobalamin) from food sources, your body has to be able to make intrinsic factor, an enzyme produced in the stomach that aids in vitamin B12 absorption.  Because Crohn’s disease destroys stomach tissue, it’s common for Crohn’s patients to acquire vitamin B12 deficiency, in addition to other nutritional deficiencies.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include everyday fatigue, sluggishness, memory loss, painful tingling and numbness in your extremities (feet, hands, tongue), anxiety, and dizziness.

To find out if you have vitamin B12 deficiency, ask your doctor for a blood test to measure vitamin B12 levels.

Treatment requires non-dietary vitamin B12 supplements, usually from a vitamin B12 shot or alternative method.

13 Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Crohn’s Disease, B12 Patch

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

Folic acid

13 Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Crohn’s Disease, B12 PatchFolic acid is another essential B vitamin; it’s crucial for preventing birth defects in utero.  If you’re using the sulfa drug sulfasalazine for Crohn’s disease, then you are at high risk for developing folic acid deficiency.  Experts recommend taking 1 mg of folic acid per day.

Vitamin A

Because Crohn’s disease sufferers often have difficulty absorbing vitamin A from food, doctors highly recommend adding the A vitamin to your vitamin regimen.

Vitamin D

Experts have noted a high correlation of vitamin D deficiency among Crohn’s disease patients.  Vitamin D deficiency causes bone loss, muscular soreness, and weakness.  It’s also believed that vitamin D is essential for promoting immune system health.  Sun exposure increases vitamin D levels, but supplements are also available.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E deficiency is high among Crohn’s patients who have difficulty eating foods like dark leafy greens and nuts.  To avoid symptoms like muscular weakness, tingling, and numbness, experts recommend taking daily doses of vitamin E oil.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K occurs naturally in dark leafy veggies, and is essential for healthy blood clotting and bone strength.  If you have difficulty absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, then you should include vitamin K in your daily vitamin therapy.


Iron anemia is a risk factor with Crohn’s disease, due to intestinal bleeding.  Iron deficiency causes symptoms like extreme fatigue, paleness, and headaches.  A blood test can determine if you have iron deficiency.

13 Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Crohn’s Disease, B12 Patch


Crohn’s disease increases your risk for calcium deficiency, especially if you are using corticosteroids as part of your immune system therapy.  Additionally, vitamin B12 deficiency, common among Crohn’s patients, increases your risk for bone loss.  Health experts recommend taking 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium supplements each day.


Crohn’s disease causes severe bouts of diarrhea, during which time high doses of magnesium are expelled rapidly.  To prevent magnesium deficiency, experts recommend supplementing with extra magnesium, especially during flare-ups.

On the Run with Crohn’s? 6 Ways to Ease Public Restroom Anxiety


Zinc supplies are also depleted with chronic diarrhea, making this another essential nutrient to take regularly if you have Crohn’s disease.


13 Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Crohn’s Disease, B12 PatchProbiotics contain “good” bacteria that are helpful for boosting digestive health and preventing pouchitis, a common side effect resulting from pouch surgery.  For best results, ask your gastroenterologist to recommend a specific bacterial strain.

Gut Bugs:Winning the Bacteria Battle

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as the kind found in fish oil, are helpful for fighting inflammation, a common side effect of Crohn’s disease.


Glutamine is an amino acid that promotes intestinal health.  Many doctors advise taking 400 mg of glutamine, 4 times per day, for preventing Crohn’s disease symptoms.

Please tell us…

Do you have Crohn’s disease?  If so, do you agree with these dietary recommendations?  Do you use any vitamins that are not included in this list?  Have you tested for vitamin deficiency, including vitamin B12 anemia?

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+.

Read more about Crohn’s and vitamin B12:

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

101 Helpful Sites for Kids ‘n Teens with Crohn’s (and their Parents)

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


Crohn’s disease

10 Vitamins You May Need if You Have Crohn’s

10 Herbs and Vitamins That Are Good for Your Gut

Images: Lori Greig, cohdra, bradley j

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!

Spread the love…

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


Wikimedia, photl, Fotolia.com

9 Conditions that Mimic Fibromyalgia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012



Chronic pain symptoms may indicate fibromyalgia, or one of many other illnesses like pernicious anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency.  If you constantly feel tired, bloated, nauseous, itchy, and wracked with crushing pain, you might be suffering from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, B12 deficiency, or all of the above…


Fibromyalgia, or fibromyositis, is a condition that causes the sufferer indescribable pain and fatigue for no apparent reason. Doctors are unsure as to the exact cause of fibromyalgia, which is classified as an autoimmune disorder involving the brain’s overreaction to pain stimuli.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Persistent muscular pain in at least 11 of 18 specific “pain points” on the body, including the neck and shoulders
  • Pain described as stiffness, burning, throbbing
  • Pain spreads from one tender spot to another
  • Sleep problems caused by pain and restless legs syndrome
  • Depression
  • Gastrointestinal woes, like stomach pain, nausea, flatulence, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, and constipation
  • Bladder incontinence
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive difficulties, “brain fog,” trouble concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Painful tingling sensations (“pins and needles”) and numbness in hands, feet, and ankles

Also read: How to Tell if Chronic Pain is Fibromyalgia: 18 Pressure Points


Pernicious anemia- Vitamin B12 deficiency

Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disorder that prevents your body from producing intrinsic factor, a protein the body needs for vitamin B12 absorption.  As a result, pernicious anemia patients often have dangerously low levels of vitamin B12- a nutrient involved in producing red blood cells, protecting the nervous system, lowering homocysteine levels, maintaining healthy cognitive skills, and establishing DNA synthesis.  Vitamin B12 deficiency often overlaps with fibromyalgia, as gastrointestinal issues often inhibit vitamin B12 absorption.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • “Brain fog”
  • Anxiety
  • Aggressiveness
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Painful tingling and numbness in hands, feet, and ankles
  • Sore tongue that is red and swollen
  • Burning sensation in mouth and tongue
  • Altered sense of taste
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent clumsiness
  • Difficulty walking without stumbling
  • Difficulty balancing on one leg

Also read: 


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

Chronic fatigue syndrome shares comorbidity with fibromyalgia. Like fibromyalgia, the cause for CFS is still unexplained.  Patients complaining of chronic fatigue receive diagnosis based on their symptoms.

Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include:

  • Persistent tiredness that is not caused by physical exertion, loss of sleep, or mental exhaustion
  • Waking up fatigued, despite sleeping the whole night
  • Pain in tender spots similar to the pain zones suffered by fibromyalgia patients, only less severe

Also read: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia- Is there a Difference?

Myofascial pain syndrome

Myofascial pain is similar to fibromyalgia.  While fibromyalgia patients experience soreness in “pain points,” sufferers of myofascial pain syndrome experience pain in “trigger points.”  Also unlike fibromyalgia symptoms, myofascial pain does not spread from one point to another.

Symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome include:

  • Small pain points that occur in tense muscles
  • Trigger points that produce a muscular twitch when stimulated
  • Pain points are tiny lumps about the size of your pinky’s fingernail.

Chronic headaches

Fibromyalgia sufferers often experience chronic headaches such as migraines, tension headaches, daily persistent headaches, or hemicrania continua.  Scientists speculate that migraines happen in the same part of the brain as fibromyalgia triggers.

Symptoms of migraine headaches include:

  • Throbbing head pain, typically on one side of the head
  • Eye pain
  • Migraine aura- visual disturbances, vertigo, hallucinations, speech slurring, loss of consciousness, or temporary paralysis
  • Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, and scents
  • Nausea
  • Uncontrolled vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness

Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)

Exposure to chemicals may cause symptoms that mimic fibromyalgia, although researchers are uncertain if MCS is a physical response or a psychological reaction.

Symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivity include:

  • Significantly lower threshold for chemical tolerance than normal
  • Pain reaction consistent with various unrelated chemicals
  • Sensitivity occurs in more than one organ of the body
  • Chronic pain reaction that occurs repeatedly from exposure to certain chemicals
  • Removing the chemical trigger ends pain symptoms


Most fibromyalgia patients have experienced clinical depression in the past, and a substantial (but lower) percentage suffers from chronic depression. Depression is also a common symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency.  If depression stems from fibromyalgia pain, then it does not classify as major depression, but rather a secondary condition of fibromyalgia chronic pain syndrome.

Symptoms of major depression include:

  • Spells of sadness that last for months
  • Daily depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems like oversleeping or not sleeping enough
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of low value or guilt
  • Weight problems, either excessive weight gain or weight loss
  • Contemplations of suicide

Also read: Vitamin Deficiencies can drive you Crazy- Seriously!  Part 1


Hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s disease) is sometimes confused with fatigue associated with fibromyalgia or vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.  As opposed to hyperthyroid disorder, where the thyroid gland produces too many hormones, hypothyroid disorder involves underproduction of hormones in the thyroid gland.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Joint or muscle pain that hurts “all over”
  • Cold hypersensitivity
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Altered sense of taste
  • Dry thick skin patches

Also read: Low B12 means Low Thyroid- Hypothyroidism and B12 Deficiency


Autoimmune disease symptoms like lupus may occur at the same time as fibromyalgia or B12 deficiency, making it harder to diagnose. Conversely, patients with lupus often don’t realize that their vitamin B12 levels have dropped to a dangerous low until they start to suffer severe nerve damage.

Symptoms of lupus include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Skin lesions
  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Memory loss
  • “brain fog”
  • Confusion
  • Dry eyes

Also read: Lupus and Vitamin B12 Deficiency- What’s the Connection?

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by ticks.  Because of delayed symptoms mimicking fibromyalgia, about 15-50% of fibromyalgia patients receives a misdiagnosis of Lyme disease, and is instructed to take strong antibiotics. A blood test sometimes excludes Lyme disease, but not always.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Itching all over the body
  • Chills and fever
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Muscular pain
  • Stiff neck
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Partial paralysis
  • Speech problems

Restless Legs Syndrome

A significant amount of fibromyalgia sufferers and pernicious anemia patients also experience restless legs syndrome at night. However, other causes of restless legs syndrome are kidney disorder, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or drugs.

Symptoms of restless legs syndrome include:

  • Uneasy feeling in lower leg
  • Creeping, crawling sensations
  • Intense need to shake leg in order to ease symptoms
  • Achiness that disappears with exercise

Read more about diseases that mimic fibromyalgia and vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Movement Disorders- How They Relate

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

Type 2 Diabetes and Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Are you at Risk?


Fibromyalgia- University of Maryland Medical Center

Mayo Clinic

PubMed Health

Images, from top:

jcantrootKindreds Page, aussiegall

Type 2 Diabetes and Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Are you at Risk?

Monday, January 2nd, 2012



If you have type 2 diabetes, your chances of developing vitamin B12 deficiency are greater than those of non-diabetics.  That’s because metformin, a popular drug for diabetes interferes with vitamin B12 absorption, causing severe B12 deficiency.  Other causes of vitamin B12 deficiency include pernicious anemia, bariatric surgery, and gastrointestinal disorders.


Vitamin B12- Cobalamin

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that occurs naturally in protein-based foods, including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese.  It is one of a group of B vitamins (B complex).  Vitamin B12 performs many crucial functions for your body:

  • Vitamin B12 aids in producing red blood cells
  • Vitamin B12 protects your nervous system
  • Vitamin B12 is required for DNA synthesis
  • Vitamin B12 lowers homocysteine levels, thus reducing your risk for heart attack and stroke
  • Vitamin B12 helps your body convert fat to energy


Metformin- its effect on B12 levels

Metformin, a hypoglycemic drug for treating type 2 diabetes, interferes with your body’s ability to digest vitamin B12.  According to numerous studies, up to 30% of diabetics who take metformin suffer the effects of vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Researchers believe that metformin may hinder the production of intrinsic factor, a protein your body uses to grab vitamin B12 from food sources and absorb it into the bloodstream. 

Other suggestions for metformin’s link with B12 deficiency include possible bacterial overgrowth and hindered movement of the small intestines.

Brain Drain Medications- Drugs that Drain the B12 out of you


How much vitamin B12 do you need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B12 varies by age, and applies to healthy individuals:

  • Infants: .4 mcg to .5 mcg
  • Toddlers: .9 mcg
  • Children, 4-8 yrs. of age: 1.2 mcg
  • Children, 9-13 yrs. of age: 1.8 mcg
  • Adult males: 2.4 mcg
  • Adult females (not pregnant or lactating): 2.4 mcg
  • Pregnant females: 2.6 mcg
  • Lactating females: 2.8 mcg

Diabetics, Take Heed

People suffering from chronic illness may opt to take much higher doses.

People who benefit from larger doses of vitamin B12 include:

  • Elderly individuals
  • People with pernicious anemia
  • People taking proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux or stomach ulcers
  • People with gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease
  • Diabetics taking metformin

Diabetics need even more B12

According to a recent 7-year survey, type 2 diabetics taking metformin may require higher doses of vitamin B12 than originally believed in order to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency, as the current RDA (2.5 mcg) is not sufficient.

  • Of the survey participants who took metformin for type 2 diabetes, 5.8% had vitamin B12 deficiency- low B12 levels in the blood.
  • Only 2.4% of diabetics not taking metformin had low levels of vitamin B12.
  • About 3.3% of test subjects who did not have diabetes showed signs of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • For diabetics, taking oral vitamin B12 supplements did not affect their B12 levels, nor did it affect the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • When intestinal disorders interfere with B12 absorption, the only other method for supplementing vitamin B12 is directly through the bloodstream.

Type 2 Diabetes Often Undetected- Do You Have These Symptoms?


Do you have vitamin B12 deficiency?

Vitamin B12 deficiency is diagnosed through blood testing.  However, many of the signs of B12 deficiency may be masked by other prevailing ailments, so it’s important to know the symptoms.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Mental confusion, “brain fog”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Painful numbness in hand and feet, “tingling” sensations
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Clumsiness, stumbling
  • Sore tongue
  • Altered taste perception
  • Eye twitches

Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency could result in severe nerve damage, early-onset dementia, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, and death.

Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency:

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

Diabetics, Put On Your Walking Shoes


Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12

Association of Biochemical B12 Deficiency With Metformin Therapy and Vitamin B12 Supplements: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2006- PubMed, NCBI

Image credits, from top:

Jon McGovern, Wikipedia, lgringospain, Pink Sherbet Photography

5-Hour Energy Drinks with Vitamin B12- What’s the Catch?

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011



Walk into a convenience store, and you can’t even see the sugary sodas for all the energy drinks cluttering up the aisles, touting vitamin B12 among their many other energy-boosting ingredients.  Why are more Americans turning to vitamin-infused 5-hour energy shots for instant get-up-and-go, and do these products work?


Energy drinks- is it all bull?

The label on the can promises extra vitamin B12 -cobalamin- for “maximum energy,” athletic endurance, and increased mental focus, without causing nasty side effects associated with most energy drinks (nervousness, paranoia, and insomnia).  At least, that’s the claim.  But how healthy are vitamin B12 drinks, and does the “energy blend” of vitamins and nutrients really have that much impact on your energy level?

Let’s look at the most common ingredients in a 2-ounce bottle:

  • Niacin- 30mg (150% RDA)
  • Vitamin B6- 40mg (2000% RDA)
  • Folic acid- 400mcg (100% RDA)
  • Vitamin B12- 500mcg (8333% RDA)
  • “Energy Blend”- 1870mg

Oh, and don’t forget the caffeine

Yes- all energy drinks contain loads of caffeine, in addition to all the healthy nutrients.  That “energy blend” referred to on the label includes about 138mg of caffeine- ounce for ounce, the same amount of caffeine as in a cup of brewed coffee, and twice as much caffeine as you’ll find in a cup of instant coffee.


Boost Energy Now! 20 Practical Tips for Fighting Fatigue

Why include vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 has gained a lot of popularity these days as the “energy vitamin,” and for good reason.  Vitamin B12 helps your body convert carbs into energy.  Vitamin B12 also helps produce amino acids, promotes a healthy metabolism, builds red blood cells, supports healthy cognitive functioning, protects your nervous system by sustaining myelin, and regulates homocysteine, a hormone linked with heart attacks and strokes.  (See B Vitamins prevent Cardiovascular Disease- B6, B12 and Folate)

Some side effects of having low vitamin B12 in your system include

  • chronic fatigue, despite getting plenty of sleep
  • exhaustion after exercise
  • depression
  • trouble concentrating
  • memory loss
  • confusion
  • paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • irritability

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

Some of the more physical, neurological side effects of having B12 deficiency include

  • arms or feet constantly going numb, or “falling asleep”
  • painful tingling sensations in the hands, feet, or tongue
  • sore, reddened tongue
  • altered taste perception
  • tinnitus (ear ringing)
  • weak muscles
  • poor motor control
  • clumsiness
  • frequent stumbling while walking or running
  • inability to balance on one leg

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

Over a long period, low vitamin B12 levels could lead to pernicious anemia, early onset dementia like Alzheimer’s disease, neurological damage, osteoporosis, stroke, heart attack…even death.


Why you’re better off getting your B12 elsewhere

Nobody’s disputing that it’s important to get your daily fix of vitamin and minerals. But it’s important to make sure you get a potent, fully digestible form of vitamin B12.  The problem with many energy drinks is that they only work if your body is able to absorb vitamin B12.  And most people who suffer severe fatigue and loss of concentration because of low vitamin B12 levels lack the necessary chemicals for vitamin B12 absorption from dietary sources and distributing it to the blood supply.

In fact, if you don’t produce “intrinsic factor,” then no amount of vitamin B12 food sources, drinks, sprays, or pills will give you the boost of energy and mental focus you need to get through the day.  To get vitamin B12 into your blood, you will have to bypass the digestive system.

First, find out if you have B12 deficiency by asking your doctor for a blood test. Supplementation may include vitamin B12 supplements or b12 shots.

Read more about vitamin B12 for energy:

Is Vitamin B12 the Secret to the Fountain of Youth?


Caffeine in 5-Hour Energy


Image credits, from top:

nattu, Nina Matthews Photography, Annie Mole

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