Vitamin B12 deficiency is a condition resulting from low B12 levels in the body due to inadequate food intake or malabsorption. While it is usually asymptomatic in nature, severe cases of B12 deficiency may result to irreversible damage to the nervous system. Inadequate dietary intake, surgery of the stomach or intestine, and some hereditary diseases are just a few of the most familiar causes of Vitamin B12 deficiency. However, there are a lot more uncommon reasons why an individual will most likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency. Here are a few examples:
1. Long-term Use of Medications such as:
Metformin, an oral anti-diabetic drug, may reduce serum levels of vitamin B12. New research finding reported that a third of those who took Metformin for long periods of at least 5 years or more developed megaloblastic anemia resulting from B12 deficiency. Of course, not with Metformin use alone but coupled with poor dietary intake. However, the condition is reversible through oral calcium supplements.
- Antacid Drugs
H2 blockers reduce secretion of gastric acids, which may impede B12 absorption. Proton pump inhibitors, another type of antacid, also produce same effect, but are more likely to cause absence of gastric acid secretion. Since gastric acids are important in releasing dietary B12 from protein, it will affect the process of vitamin B12 absorption. However, B12 deficiency is unlikely to occur unless use of antacids is prolonged (2 years or more).
Antibiotics destroy or weaken bacteria, which may also include those in the intestines. These drugs may upset bacteria that manufacture vitamin B12. Clinically significant B12 deficiency rarely occurs, however prolonged use may hinder production of B12 in the body.
- Nitrous Oxide
Nitrous oxide, commonly used as anesthesia, may also inactivate vitamin B12 through oxidation. There were also reports that individuals with suspected B12 deficiency exhibited symptoms after a few days or weeks of exposure. However, those who have significant number of vitamin B12 stored in the body did not develop B12 deficiency except for those who repeatedly use it in prolonged periods such as recreational abuse.
- Aminosalicylic acid
Aminosalicylic acid can also reduce vitamin B12 levels for about 55% in general. Notable changes in the red blood cells and occasional cases of symptomatic anemia occurred due to B12 deficiency. These changes are part of the malabsorption syndrome and usually happen after several months of use.
- Slow-release Potassium Chloride
Potassium supplements do not necessarily cause B12 deficiency but may aggravate the condition. It significantly results to low B12 levels in the blood coupled with some risk factors that contributes to B12 deficiency.
2. Excessive Exposure to Inorganic Mercury
Inorganic mercury, commonly used in amalgam dental fillings and vaccines, oxidizes vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) making it unable to cross the brain barriers. Thus, B12 deficiency in the central nervous system resulted from inorganic mercury toxicity in the brain and cerebrospinal fluids.
3. Strict Vegetarianism
A vegetarian diet has a greater risk developing B12 deficiency. Aside from the fact that it has limited food resources, it is even hard to absorb and easily destroyed. Since vitamin B12 is freely soluble, it is easily lost in cooking and processing. Aside from that, the nutrient is also sensitive to light, strong acids and alkali. With all these external factors affecting B12 intake, low B12 levels might be inevitable and may eventually lead to B12 deficiency.
4. Chronic Intestinal Infestation
Repeated intestinal infestations such as tapeworm and other similar parasites may result to low B12 levels since these parasites compete with the absorption of nutrients in the body.
5. Recurring Gastrointestinal Infections
Some case studies reported that 90% of those who developed B12 deficiency originally had Helicobacter Pylori. As we all know, the H. Pylori bacteria causes inflammation in the stomach or small intestine affecting the normal gastrointestinal functions. Thus, infections in the GI tract interfere with B12 absorption since the stomach and intestine are vital in the B12 absorption process.
There are still more than a few reasons on how you may develop B12 deficiency. Countless predisposing factors may also increase chances of B12 depletion. However, through proper diet intake and careful consideration of what medicines to take, B12 deficiency is far and most likely never to happen. Nevertheless, B12 supplements are readily available in various forms such as pills, intranasal sprays and injections, used singly or in combination with other supplements.
This Article is written by Lena Butler, contributor of Test Country Articles.
Tags: 6. B12 deficiency, anti-diabetic drug, B12 supplements, gastric acids, Gastrointestinal Infections, Helicobacter Pylori, intranasal sprays, Potassium supplements, Pylori bacteria, Strict Vegetarianism, vegetarian diet, Vitamin B12 deficiency