June 22, 2018
Stomach organ

Pernicious Anemia: A Serious B12 Deficiency

by Berkeley Wellness  

Only about two percent of people will ever develop the vitamin B12 deficiency disease called pernicious anemia. It can occur at any age, not solely in those over 50.

What happens is that the stomach nearly stops producing acids and the protein called intrinsic factor, and thus virtually no orally consumed B12 can be absorbed. Because the vitamin is stored so efficiently in the liver, it may take five years or longer before stores are used up and symptoms develop. These may include extreme fatigue, dementia, disorientation and weakness in the limbs. One consequence may be irreversible neurological damage, so it’s important to seek medical care early. A high intake of another B vitamin, folic acid, can mask some signs of pernicious anemia and can lead to a delay in treatment.

Pernicious anemia has to be treated with vitamin B12, given by injection or taken orally in very high doses.