When the intestines are unable to adequately absorb vitamin B12, there is a decrease in red blood cells which generates in the body what is known as Pernicious Anemia.
Although it is possible that there are asymptomatic patients, among those who have symptoms it is evident: diarrhea or constipation, tiredness, fatigue, dizziness, desire to eat strange things, paleness, loss of appetite, bleeding gums, depression and numbness of the extremities.
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The goal of treatment is to increase vitamin B12 levels:
- Some patients also need oral vitamin B12 supplements.
- Treatment consists of a monthly injection of vitamin B12. People with very low levels of vitamin B12 may need higher doses.
Causes and consequences of suffering from it
Intrinsic factor (FI) is a protein secreted by the stomach with special qualities capable of helping the intestines to absorb vitamin B12. Therefore, if the stomach does not produce the necessary amount of intrinsic factor, the intestine cannot adequately absorb the vitamin B12 that the body needs.
Among the most common causes of pernicious anemia can be mentioned:
- Atrophic gastritis that consists of the weakening of the stomach lining, which causes the disintegration of the membranes of the stomach lining.
- A disease of the immune system with which the FI protein is attacked as a defense or the cells that line the stomach, which is where this protein is produced.
How does it affect children, youth and adults?
This is a very rare condition in children and young people. In adulthood, symptoms of pernicious anemia usually appear between the ages of 20 and 30 and are generally associated with endocrine problems. However, the average age for diagnosis is 60 years.
Some scientific studies suggest that deficiency of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) are the 5th to cause anemia in adults over 65, although the actual prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency is likely to be much higher. Its incidence increases in those with a family history and in Scandinavians and Nordic Europeans.
Effects and consequences during pregnancy
In general, pernicious anemia is not common during pregnancy , unless the mother has serious compromises with the absorption of Vitamin B12 in the gastric mucosa, or chronic infections, but this is not frequent. If it occurs, it is usually detected in time and with vitamin supplements it is possible to correct it.
However, when it is not treated, its consequences can be serious, including: premature delivery, low birth weight, and even risk of maternal mortality in the postpartum period. If it appears, it is more frequent in the third trimester of pregnancy or during the puerperium. It is more common in multiple pregnancies.
We recommend you read this important article to learn everything about pregnancy in the Complete Step-by-Step Pregnancy Guide
What is it like after delivery? During breastfeeding, how does it affect the baby?
Some pathologies such as celiac disease, chronic infectious enteritis and entero-enteric fistulas, can cause complications in the newborn . It manifests with growth retardation and symptoms of anemia (eg, asthenia, low energy, headache, infections). If left untreated, neurological damage can occur (muscle weakness and gait disturbances, even some more serious)
What are the allowed foods?
Meat and dairy products are the highest in vitamin B12.
Cautions to be taken into account
It is important to suspect the existence of pernicious anemia before symptoms such as paleness, listlessness, muscle weakness, irritability, nervousness, high heart rate, difficulty breathing.
Pernicious anemia in patients with diabetes
Patients with diabetes mellitus and autoimmune gastropathy frequently have impaired absorption of vitamin B12 and consequently suffer from pernicious anemia. On the other hand, atrophic gastritis and pernicious anemia increase the risk of developing some types of digestive system cancers.
Check out our article on: Diabetes: Complications, Causes, the 6 Types and How to Prevent Them
How does the immune system work?
Vitamin B12 is key for the proper functioning of various cells, especially nerve and blood cells, so its deficiency progressively leads to the appearance of neurological problems, although it also affects the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems. In severe cases, vitamin B 12 deficiency can also affect other blood cell lines, such as platelets and leukocytes . The latter are essential in the proper functioning of the immune system.
You will be interested in reading: How to strengthen the Immune System: Tips and Food
Risks to consider
It is important to rule out the deficiency of Vitamin B12, knowing how much it can affect the various systems of the body, especially in those who suffer from any digestive pathology that may influence its absorption.
Nutritional treatment and home remedies
In general, shellfish are a natural source of Vitamin B12. So is beef liver, meat, caviar, fish, and lamb.
If you are interested in knowing more about Anemia, we invite you to read this complete article with valuable information: Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments and Diagnoses
Articles on other types of anemia
We leave you a list with the articles of the other types of anemia that we have created, to make it easier to find information:
- Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments and Diagnoses
- Macrocytic Anemia: Medical and Natural Treatments, Causes and Diagnosis
- Hemolytic Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments and Diagnoses
- Iron Deficiency Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments, And Diagnoses
- Sickle Cell Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments, and Diagnoses
- Fanconi Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments, And Diagnoses
- Aplastic Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments, And Diagnoses
- Sideroblastic Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments and Diagnoses
- Pernicious Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments, And Diagnoses
- Normocytic Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments, and Diagnoses
- Small Cell Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments, And Diagnoses
- Megaloblastic Anemia: Risks, Causes, Treatments, And Diagnoses
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