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Main content Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia

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  • Main content Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia

    Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia

    What is vitamin B12 deficiency anemia?
    Having vitamin B12 deficiency means that your body does not have enough of this vitamin. You need B12 to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen through your body. Not having enough B12 can lead to anemia, which means your body does not have enough red blood cells to do the job.
    This can make you feel weak and tired.

    What causes vitamin B12 deficiency anemia?
    Most people get more than enough B12 from eating meat, eggs, milk, and cheese. Normally, the vitamin is absorbed by your digestive system—your stomach and intestines. Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia usually happens when the digestive system is not able to absorb the vitamin. This can happen if:

    •You have pernicious anemia Opens New Window. In this anemia, your body destroys the cells in your stomach that help you absorb vitamin B12.
    •You have had surgery to remove part of the stomach or the last part of your small intestine, called the ileum Opens New Window Opens New Window. This includes some types of surgery used to help very overweight people lose weight.
    •You have problems with the way your body digests food, such as sprue Opens New Window (also called celiac disease), Crohn's disease Opens New Window, bacteria growth in the small intestine, or a parasite Opens New Window.
    This anemia can also happen if you don't eat enough foods with B12, but this is rare. People who eat a vegan Opens New Window diet and older adults who don't eat a variety of foods may need to take a daily vitamin pill to get enough B12.

    What are the symptoms?
    If your vitamin B12 deficiency is mild, you may not have symptoms or you may not notice them. Some people may think they are just the result of growing older. As the anemia gets worse, you may:

    •Feel weak, tired, and lightheaded.
    •Have pale skin.
    •Have a sore, red tongue or bleeding gums.
    •Feel sick to your stomach and lose weight.
    •Have diarrhea or constipation.

    If the level of vitamin B12 stays low for a long time, it can damage your nerve cells. If this happens, you may have:

    •Numbness or tingling in your fingers and toes.
    •A poor sense of balance.
    •Dementia, a loss of mental abilities.
    How is vitamin B12 deficiency anemia diagnosed?
    Your doctor will examine you and ask questions about your past health and how you are feeling now. You will also have blood tests to check the number of red blood cells and to see if your body has enough vitamin B12.

    The level of folic acid Opens New Window, another B vitamin, will be checked too. Some people whose vitamin B12 levels are too low also have low levels of folic acid. The two problems can cause similar symptoms. But they are treated differently.

    How is it treated?
    Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is treated with supplements of vitamin B12. Taking supplements brings your level of vitamin B12 back to normal, so you do not have symptoms. To keep your level of vitamin B12 normal, you will probably need to take supplements for the rest of your life. If you stop taking them, you'll get anemia again.

    Your vitamin B12 supplements might be pills or shots. If you use shots, you can learn to give them to yourself at home. For many people, pills work just as well as shots. They also cost less and are easier to take. If you have been getting shots, ask your doctor if you can switch to pills.

    You can take steps at home to improve your health by eating a varied diet that includes meat, milk, cheese, and eggs, which are good sources of vitamin B12. Also, eat plenty of foods that contain folic acid, another type of B vitamin. These include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and fortified breads and cereals.

    Can vitamin B12 deficiency anemia be prevented?
    Most people can prevent this anemia by including animal products like milk, cheese, and eggs in their diets. People who follow a vegan diet can prevent it by taking a daily vitamin pill or by eating foods that have been fortified with B12.

    Babies born to women who eat a vegan diet should be checked by a doctor to see whether they need extra vitamin B12.

    If you have a high risk of getting this type of anemia, your doctor can give you vitamin B12 shots or pills to prevent it..
    I received the GIFT OF LIFE on Nov 9, 2010 thanks to my wonderful donor Laura and her family!

  • #2
    Re: Main content Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia

    I got my results today from the docs. Guess what followers?

    I’M PERFECTLY HEALTHY - aside from a B12 condition (anemia) which is the reason I’ve been ill for like 6 weeks and looking like crap and having terrible cramps/ovary trouble and no periods/heavy as hell periods.


    Blood pressure - fine

    BMI - morbidly obese

    Diabetes - none

    Weight - fat as ever

    Ovaries - still hatin’ on me but NO CYSTS!

    The funniest thing about this is my mother and father will be gutted that they have no underlying illness to pin me being fat on and all that about worrying about my health needn’t be done because I am HEALTHY AND FAT.

    I’m still eating healthy to make me feel better and get my immune system strong again :-) I have another doctor appointment on the 18th for my B12 def.


    • #3
      I took tons of Vit B supplements all my life and struggled with yo-yo weight problems. Last year I discovered the concept of nutritional density. After following a diet emphasizing that for two months, my Vit B levels were too high and I had to stop taking supplements. Our nephrologist told me I didn't need them any more. For the best explanation of this, read Dr Joel Fuhrman's Eat for Health (explains the concept and lists foods by their nutrition per calorie) and Eat to Live (tells how to use this concept to quickly lose weight. After the two months my hair stylist noticed that my hair grows twice as fast now and my skin looks great. After 5 months I had lost 5 inches around my waist and my belly no longer starts just below my boobs. I am now the Kale Kween. I have a dozen superb ways to fix kale so you won't know you are eating it. You can also watch Dr Fuhrman on YouTube or on the archives of Dr Oz.