Lack of Vitamin B12 May Cause Pernicious Anemia
When one lacks vitamin B12 in the body, this can result in a condition known as pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia can be detected by a blood test due to the presence of huge immature red blood cells in one’s blood. Such blood cells show inefficiency at carrying oxygen.
Pernicious anemia can be triggered by a dearth of food in one’s diet that has vitamin B12. Or another cause could be a lack of intrinsic factor in one’s stomach. Those who are at risk for this condition are vegans.
One treatment for pernicious anemia is consuming large amounts of folacin to assist red blood cells in growing to the right shape and size. Still, even the right amounts of folacin will not repair any nerve damage attributed to vitamin B 12 deficiency. The most
severe effects of Vitamin B12 deficiency are irreversible nerve and brain damage.
In reality it will take up to 5 years for the condition to develop, depending on the amount of B12 still stored in one’s body. This in turn is dependent on how much food with vitamin B12 you actually
consume. Animal products supply the largest amounts of vitamin B12 since this nutrient is not really found in vegetables. (This explains why vegans are at risk for the disease.)
For one to absorb the vitamin into the body, intrinsic factor is required in the person’s stomach. This factor is actually a protein produced in the human stomach. However, if a person’s stomach has been partially or wholly removed, then the capacity to
produce intrinsic factor is lessened or totally eliminated.
Without intrinsic factor, a person can still end up with vitamin B12 deficiency even if he were to constantly consume foods abundant in vitamin B 12. Should one’s stomach be removed through surgery, he can receive vitamin B12 shots that must be administered for life at intervals of every three weeks. By injecting the vitamin into the bloodstream, it is guaranteed that it will circulate in the person’s system even without the intrinsic factor.
It is remarkable enough to note that a pound of calves liver per day has enough vitamin B12 that even those who don’t have the intrinsic factor will be able to absorb the right amounts of the vitamin to avoid pernicious anemia.
Among other things, the deficiency is caused by: fish tape worm; Crohn’s disease, abdominal or intestinal surgery that may hamper the production or absorption of intrinsic factor; and chronic
The importance of a well-balanced diet that incorporates animal products cannot be overstressed for preventing the condition. (Vegans, since they are at risk, should consult a good dietician to
avoid developing pernicious anemia.)
Spotting the condition early on and quickly treating it may reduce its severity while forestalling neurologic complications. The impact on the central nervous system could become irreversible should treatment not be started within 6 months from when symptoms are first detected. Furthermore, Vitamin B12 deficiency may trigger a false-positive Pap smear due to the condition’s effect on epithelial cells.