Health Topics: /Vitamin B12 Defiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is a low red blood cell count due to a lack of vitamin B12. Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues.

Vitamin B 12 and folate

Vitamin B12 and folate together help the body produce red blood cells. They also have several other important functions:

Vitamin B12 keeps the nervous system (brain, nerves and spinal cord) healthy. Vitamin B12 is generally found in:



Dairy products

Folate is important for pregnant women because it reduces the risk of birth defects in unborn babies. The best source of folate is green vegetables such as:


Brussel sprouts



http://www.nlm.nih.gSymptoms of anemia vary depending on the underline cause:

Vitamin B12 deficiency/ pernicious anemia
If anemia is caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, one may have symptoms like:

Yellow coloration of skin

A sore and red tongue (glossitis)

Ulcers inside mouth

An altered sense of touch

Disturbed vision




Dementia– a decline in mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgment

Folate deficiency
As well as general symptoms of anemia, a folate deficiency may also cause:

Loss of sensation, such as a reduced sense of touch or pain

Muscle weakness




The exact cause is not known, but disease is associated with certain risks factors which include:

Age – Pernicious anemia is most common at later age

Gender – Pernicious anemia affects slightly more women than men

Family history – nearly a third of people with anemia also have a family member with the condition

Autoimmune condition, such as Addison’s disease or vitiligo – is also associated with anemia and other autoimmune conditions

Diet- The body generally stores vitamin B12 to last approximately two to four years. However, it is important to have vitamin B12 in the diet to ensure  the store is kept at a healthy level.

Conditions affecting the stomach- Some stomach conditions or stomach operations can also prevent the absorption of  vitamin B12. For example, a gastrectomy(a surgical procedure where part of stomach is removed) also increases risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.

Conditions affecting the intestines- Some conditions that affect intestines (part of the digestive system). For example, Crohn’s disease (a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system) can sometimes result in body not able to absorb enough vitamin B12.

Folate deficiency anaemia

Folate is a water-soluble vitamin (it dissolves in water), as a result body is unable to store it for long periods of time. Body stores folate that last four months. This means one need folate in daily diet to ensure body has sufficient stores of the vitamin.

Diet- Not having enough folate in daily diet. 

Mal absorption- Sometimes body is unable to absorb folate as effectively as it should. This is usually the result of an underlying condition affecting digestive system, such as Coeliac disease.

Excessive urination- Body may lose folate from body if one urinate frequently. This can be caused by an underlying condition that affects one of the organs, such as your kidneys or liver.

Pregnancy- If a women is pregnant or planning to get pregnant, daily supplement of 0.4mg of folic acid should be taken for at least  12 weeks.



Diagnosis may require a complete blood count or peripheral blood smear based on patient history and physical examination.


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