Helicobacter pylori and vitamin B12 deficiency

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ANKARA, TURKEY. It is estimated that more than 50 per cent of adults in developed countries are infected with the Helicobacter pylori bacterium. H pylori has been implicated in stomach ulcers, indigestion (dyspepsia), gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), stomach cancer, and MALT lymphoma. About 10-15 per cent of adults over 60 years of age are affected by a vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency. Researchers at the Turkish Military Medical Academy now provide convincing evidence that the two are linked. A detailed study of 138 patients with vitamin B12 deficiency and anaemia discovered that 77 (58 per cent) of the patients had a H pylori infection. Eradication of this infection successfully cured the anaemia and reversed the vitamin B12 deficiency in 31 (40 per cent) of the 77 infected patients. The researchers conclude that a H pylori infection can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency and that this deficiency, in many cases, can be totally eliminated by eradicating the infection. EDITOR’S NOTE: Memory loss, fatigue, and mental confusion are often the first indicators of a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Kaptan, Kursad, et al. Helicobacter pylori – Is it a novel causative agent in vitamin B12 deficiency? Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 160, May 8, 2000, pp. 1349-53

Stopeck, Alison. Links between Helicobacter pylori infection, cobalamin deficiency, and pernicious anaemia. Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 160, May 8, 2000, pp. 1229-30 (editorial)