Vitamin B12 deficiency: Why lack of the vitamin can lead to anaemia

Vitamin B12 is required to help create healthy red blood cells within the body. But, not having enough of the vitamin can cause health conditions, such as anaemia.

Found in meat, fish, eggs and milk, non-vegetarians generally don’t struggle to get enough vitamin B12 into their bodies.

Even vegans can, by eating foods fortified with vitamin B12 – such as soy products, breakfast cereals and types of bread.

But what happens when you’re eating all the right stuff, but you’re still deficient in the vitamin?


  • Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms: The sign linked to your nose

It’s likely that you suffer from pernicious anaemia. The autoimmune disease messes up with something called intrinsic factor.

In people without pernicious anaemia, when vitamin B12 is ingested, it combines with a protein called intrinsic factor found in the stomach.

The combined vitamin B12 and intrinsic factor are then absorbed further down in the gut at the end of the small intestine.

For those with the autoimmune disease, antibodies unhelpfully work against intrinsic factor.

This results in intrinsic factor unable to bind with any vitamin B12 that enters the body via diet.

Or the antibodies attack the cells in the stomach that make intrinsic factor so that none can be made at all.

Either of these scenarios prevent vitamin B12 from being absorbed into the body.

Medical website Patient attest that pernicious anaemia usually develops over the age of 50.

And that the condition tends to run in families and more commonly affects women.

The antibodies which cause pernicious anaemia can be detected by a blood test to confirm the diagnosis.

Due to the health condition, there are less functioning and healthy red blood cells.

This leads to a reduction in oxygen being circulated around the body.


  • Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms: Signs on your tongue

Because of this, common symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can include tiredness, lethargy, feeling faint and breathlessness.

Less common symptoms include headaches, heart palpitations, altered taste, loss of appetite and tinnitus.

Tinnitus is the sound of ringing in the ears that only you can hear.

Another symptom may be that you look very pale.

For those with damaged intrinsic factor, or none at all, vitamin B12 injections will be needed.

Vitamin B12 will then be stored in your liver due to the injections.

This treatment will be life-long but, luckily, there shouldn’t be any side effects.

And the injection can gradually be spaced out every couple of months.

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