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Posts Tagged ‘vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia’

How Vitamin B12 Deficiency affects your Nervous System, Part 1: Physical Pain

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012



Certain symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are hard to miss-overwhelming fatigue, painful numbness, brain fog.  But vitamin B12 deficiency causes a wide range of physical and mental disorders, so many that it’s easy to confuse them for other health problems, such as thyroiditis, diabetes, or clinical depression.  To understand the impact that vitamin B12 (cobalamin) has on your body, it’s important to address all the various biological functions that become impaired when vitamin B12 deficiency occurs.


This segment focuses on physical neuropathic pain caused by vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia.

Vitamin B12 and your nervous system

Vitamin B12 is one of the most important nutrients for your nerve cells- it plays an instrumental role in protecting and maintaining your nervous system impulses.

Each nerve cell is protected by a fatty layer called myelin that insulates and allows for quick and efficient communication throughout the many other neurons of your brain and spinal cord.

Demyelinating diseases such as pernicious (megaloblastic) anemia and multiple sclerosis destroy the myelin of your nervous system, wearing it down to a thin layer, causing nervous reactions to slow down and malfunction.

Physical damage caused by vitamin B12 deficiency

Neuropathy, nerve cell impairment, is a one of the first symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and unless treated, worsens with time, causing severe and permanent nerve damage affecting your physical health.

Physical impairments caused by vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Numbness in your hands and feet, including “pins and needles” tingling sensations
  • Slower reflexes
  • Impaired perception of vibrations
  • Altered taste perception
  • Ataxia- difficulty controlling posture and movement.
  • Gait impairment- difficulty walking smoothly without stumbling
  • Muscular weakness
  • Poor bladder control
  • Burning mouth syndrome- tingling and painful burning sensations in your tongue, mouth, and lips
  • Impaired vision
  • Eye twitching
  • Impotence
  • Increased risk for miscarriage and stillborn births

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

Diagnosing and treating vitamin B12 deficiency

A few simple blood tests are required to positively diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia; first, a screening of vitamin B12 levels in the blood and second, a screening of antibodies that indicate autoimmune disorder as a possible cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.


To get your B12 levels back to normal, your doctor will likely prescribe routine vitamin B12 injections, to be inserted intramuscularly (optimally in the thick muscular tissue of the thighs).  The usual dose is 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 per shot. 

Since vitamin B12 shots require prescription, many sufferers of pernicious anemia who need extra doses of vitamin B12 have the option of supplementing with over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12.  Dietary vitamin B12 pills are not recommended, as they are not digestible for the majority of vitamin B12 deficiency patients.

Don’t miss How Vitamin B12 Deficiency affects your Nervous System, Part 2: Mental Health.

Please tell us…

Have you been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or other demyelinating diseases?  Did your doctor also screen for pernicious anemia or vitamin B12 deficiency?

What vitamin B12 treatments do you currently take, and are you completely satisfied?

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 and the brain:

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Movement Disorders- How They Relate

Can Vitamin B12 Deficiency Cause Brain Lesions?

Balance your B12, Balance your Nerves


Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

What is Myelin?

Neurological Manifestations Of Vitamin B-12 Deficiency

Image: Rennett Stowe, Dominic’s pics

Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency an Autoimmune Disorder? Yup.

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012



If you’ve been diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, you’re probably wondering, “How did this happen?”  Unless you’re a vegan or a gastric bypass patient, it’s possible that vitamin B12 deficiency resulted from an autoimmune disorder that causes pernicious anemia.


Vitamin B12 deficiency- what are the symptoms?

Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining your nervous system, psychological health, and your metabolism.  Pernicious anemia causes a wide range of debilitating symptoms that interfere with daily life, and is one cause of B12 deficiency.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia may include:

  • Everyday fatigue, despite sleeping well
  • Brain fog- confusion
  • Impaired concentration
  • Impaired memory
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Painful numbness and tingling in hands and feet
  • Tingling or burning sensation in mouth and tongue
  • Slower reflexes
  • Difficulty walking normally
  • Stomach upset
  • Infertility or frequent miscarriages and stillbirths


Vitamin B12 deficiency- what are the causes?

There are many reasons why an individual may develop vitamin B12 deficiency.  First off, if you eat a diet rich in sources of vitamin B12, including beef, poultry, fish, and milk, then you should not under any normal circumstances become deficient in vitamin B12 levels.

  • Following a vegan diet is a major risk factor for vitamin B12 deficiency.  Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal-based foods, the richest sources being liver, shellfish, and many lean meats.  Unless you supplement your vegan diet with vitamin B12, then you will eventually become depleted, as few plant-based products are infused with substantial amounts of vitamin B12.
  • Certain lifestyle choices may interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, including stomach or intestinal surgery (such as gastric bypass), alcohol abuse, and using certain B12-inhibiting medications (such as metformin or protein pump inhibitors [PPIs]).
  • Gastrointestinal diseases, in addition to other diseases that include GI malfunction, may cause vitamin B12 deficiency.  These include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, fibromyalgia, migraine disorder, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • The elderly do not produce enough stomach acid to digest vitamin B12 fully, so they are a separate risk group for vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • If none of the above-mentioned risk factors pertain to you, then it’s entirely possible that you suffer from an autoimmune disorder that prevents you from absorbing vitamin B12 from dietary sources.  Autoimmune pernicious anemia may take decades to develop and typically goes unnoticed until you reach your thirties or forties.

Vitamin B12 deficiency from autoimmune disorder

In order to get vitamin B12 into your blood supply, you need certain digestive enzymes to help you access vitamin B12 from the foods you eat.  Intrinsic factor is that necessary enzyme that your body uses to absorb vitamin B12.

For some people, certain antibodies interfere with intrinsic factor, causing your immune system to malfunction.  If you have one of the antibodies that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, then you will never be able to digest vitamin B12, no matter how many hamburgers or fish dinners you eat in your lifetime.

“I’ve heard of the X Factor and Fear Factor…But what’s Intrinsic Factor?”

Three types of antibodies cause vitamin B12 deficiency- pernicious anemia.  They include:

  • Parietal cell antibody, which prevents the production of intrinsic factor in the stomach.
  • Intrinsic factor antibody, type 1, which prevents the bonding of vitamin B12 to intrinsic factor.  About 50%-60% of pernicious anemia patients have this type of antibody.
  • Intrinsic factor antibody, type 2, which allows bonding of vitamin B12 to intrinsic factor, but prevents bonding with receptor from the ileum (the bottommost part of your small intestine).

If you’ve been tested for vitamin B12 deficiency, it’s important that you also take a blood test for the pernicious anemia antibody.  Many doctors overlook this important screening, so you might need to ask for it.

Vitamin B12 deficiency autoimmune disorder requires vitamin B12  from non-oral sources, such as vitamin B12 injections, which are available only through prescription.

Please tell us…

Have you tested for vitamin B12 deficiency, but not for the intrinsic factor or parietal cell antibodies?

If you get vitamin B12 shots…do you still experience pernicious anemia symptoms like fatigue, memory loss, brain fog, and nerve pain?

Questions or comments?  Please let us know!

Share with your friends!

If you found this helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, Facebook, or Google+.

Read more about pernicious anemia:

Diagnosing Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Pernicious Anemia: Top 10 Tests

WhichTests check Absorption of Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12- How much do you need?


Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Studies on Antibody to Intrinsic Factor


euthman, David Castillo Dominici

Top 20 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Do’s and Don’ts- Part II: Do This!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012



Part I of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Do’s and Don’ts covered bad eating habits and lifestyle choices that cause IBS; now, learn how testing for vitamin B12 deficiency or other illnesses, along with eating healthy digestion-friendly foods, can help to promote intestinal health where IBS occurs.


Recap: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive disorder that causes stomachache, heartburn, and nausea.  Sometimes, IBS correlates with vitamin B12 deficiency; other times, IBS happens because of other comorbid conditions or bad eating habits.

#1 Do this!  Check your vitamin B12 levels

Often, people who suffer from digestive problems also have dangerously low vitamin B12 levels, as many GI disorders like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, fibromyalgia, gastritis, and general IBS may cause vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia.

Getting a blood test for vitamin B12 deficiency is crucial if you suffer from IBS- untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause severe nerve damage, reduced cognitive functioning, emotional disorders, movement disorders, and increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

If you are diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, then your doctor will need to prescribe vitamin B12 (cobalamin) supplements, usually in the form of vitamin B12 shots.

#2 Do this!  See a gastroenterologist.

If you’ve been suffering from stomach problems for a long time, then make an appointment with a gastroenterologist.  In order to diagnose IBS, your doctor will have to rule out other possibilities, such as GERD, ulcer, lactose intolerance, food allergies, celiac disease, or esophagitis.

#3 Do this!  Eat healthy foods

To promote digestive health, eat a diet of whole, low-fat foods.  A healthy diet always includes fiber from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, in addition to lean proteins.  To replenish electrolytes, eat small amounts of oatmeal topped with banana slices.


#4 Do this! Take digestive enzymes

Your body produces 22 digestive enzymes naturally to help you break down food and access essential vitamins and minerals.  One of them is intrinsic factor, an enzyme produced in your stomach that aids in digesting vitamin B12.  Lack of intrinsic factor may be caused by an autoimmune disorder or damage to your esophagus, leading to vitamin B12 deficiency.

Some plant-based digestive enzymes are available in pill form, including amylase, lipase, cellulase, and protease.

#5 Do this!  Eat healthy bacteria

For optimum digestion, snack on foods containing healthy “good” bacteria.  Yogurt or kefirs are healthy if you’re lactose-tolerant; look out for brands that are labeled with “live and active cultures.”  Kimchi, a pickled cabbage condiment, is doubly healthy for your digestive system; one, because it replenishes the GI tract with health flora, and two, because cabbage is a non-digestible fiber that helps your body remove toxins and waste.

Gut Bugs:Winning the Bacteria Battle

#6 Do this!  Enjoy ginger

In small doses (2 to 4 grams), fresh or dried ginger helps to maintain digestive health and increase appetite. For ginger juice, grate ginger and then run through a garlic press, catching the droplets in a cup.  Add to tea, stews, or salads.  Be careful- ginger is very potent, and too much can cause heartburn.

#7 Do this!  Listen to your body cues

Overeating and indigestion often occur because we eat too quickly and don’t pay attention to our body cues.  Just as you get hunger pangs when it’s time to eat, you also get subtle cues when you’ve had enough, and some not-so-subtle cues- stomachache and heartburn- that you’ve overindulged.  One of the most important lessons in eating healthy is learning to tell the difference between hunger and cravings, and to know when you’re satisfied.

#8 Do this!  Take the right medicine

Certain medications your doctor may prescribe for treating indigestion may include antidiarrheal medicines, antispasmodics, or laxatives.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) – B12 Deficiency and 5 other Health Risks


#9 Do this!  Put a curfew on eating

At the end of the day, you tend to slow down; so does your metabolism.  Eating a big dinner that includes desserts is a sure way to cause debilitating indigestion.  Instead, eat an early dinner, or make lunchtime the biggest meal of the day, and resist the temptation to snack in the evening after 6:00 or 7:00 pm.

#10 Do this!  Exercise

Regular exercise promotes healthy digestion by reducing stress, boosting your metabolism, helping your maintain a healthy weight, and increasing circulation.  To benefit from exercise, you don’t need to succumb to intense, 40-minute workouts.  Just walking, riding a stationary bike, or swimming for 20-30 minutes each day is enough to prevent heart disease, obesity, and digestive disorders.

Please tell us…

Have you been experiencing unusual stomach problems, such as feeling uncomfortably full after eating light meals, waking up in the middle of the night with acid reflux, or chronic diarrhea?  Have you had your vitamin B12 levels tested?  IBS sometimes causes pernicious anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency.

As always, we welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions.

Spread the love…

Please share this article with your friends and family on Facebook or Google+!

Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency and IBS

Top 20 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Do’s and Don’ts- Part I: Don’t do that!

8 Ailments Linked with Gastritis, including B12 Deficiency

Absorbing Vitamin B12, a Metabolic Gastrointestinal Journey


Pernicious anemia: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Indigestion: MedlinePlus

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Indigestion – Self help


Grant Cochrane, Wikimedia

Vitamin B12 Deficiency is Excitotoxic, Part I

Thursday, March 1st, 2012



What do vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis have in common?  More than you realize.  For one, vitamin B12 deficiency occurs often with fibromyalgia, MS, and chronic fatigue syndrome.  Another clue is homocysteine, an excitotoxin that rattles your nervous system, sometimes with debilitating results.


What are excitotoxins?

Dr. Russell Blaylock, author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills defines excitotoxins as amino acids “that react with specialized receptors in the brain in such a way as to lead to destruction of certain types of brain cells.” Because they damage your nerve cells, excitotoxins are also referred to as neurotoxins.

Damaged nerve cells are one of the many side effects of vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia.

Homocysteine, for example, is an excitotoxin.  Too much homocysteine causes your brain’s nerve cells to malfunction, breaking down the myelin sheathe and the blood-brain barrier (BBB), letting in free radicals, and potentially killing brain cells that can never be replicated.

Elevated homocysteine levels are also one of many side effects of vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia.

Can Vitamin B12 Deficiency Cause Brain Lesions?

Common excitotoxins

The following amino acids are classified as excitotoxins (neurotoxins):

  • Homocysteine (L-cysteine)
  • Glutamate (found in MSG and hydrolyzed vegetable protein)
  • Aspartate (found in aspartame)
  • Beta amyloid

Symptoms of excitotoxicity

The following symptoms may indicate nerve damage caused by excitotoxins:

  • Chronic headaches (migraines)
  • Painful tingling and numbness in your hands and feet (vitamin B12 deficiency)
  • Muscular pain in specific sensitive spots (fibromyalgia)
  • Unexplained constant tiredness, despite sleeping well and not overexerting oneself physically (chronic fatigue syndrome)
  • Loss of muscular control (multiple sclerosis)

Coming in Part II, find out which illnesses are linked with excitotoxins, and what you can do to prevent nerve damage…

Please tell us…

  • Do you have one or more of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency as described?
  • Do you suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency and other comorbid illnesses such as fibromyalgia or multiple sclerosis?
  • How likely are you to change your diet and increase your vitamin B12, now that you know about the risk factors involved?
  • Please share your comments!

Spread the love…

Know anybody who could be helped by this information?  Please share this article on Facebook, Google+, or by emailing a link.  As always, we welcome your comments!

Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency:

Will Vitamin B12 Boost Energy if I don’t have B12 Deficiency? YES!

9 Conditions that Mimic Fibromyalgia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency


Relief of fibromyalgia symptoms following discontinuation of dietary excitotoxins

Neurotransmitters in cerebrospinal fluid reflect pathological activity-PubMed, NCBI

Increased concentrations of homocysteine in the cerebrospinal fluid in patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome- PubMed, NCBI

Cytochemical detection of homocysteine in pernicious anemia and in chronic erythremic myelosis- PubMed, NCBI




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