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Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

Unmasking B12 Deficiency: The Hidden Culprit – Malabsorption

Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that supports various bodily functions, from energy production to maintaining nerve health and preventing anaemia. However, getting enough B12 can be a challenge for some, as many factors hinder its absorption, leading to a condition known as B12 deficiency.

So, why is it that simply consuming B12-rich foods doesn’t always solve the problem? Let’s uncover the hidden culprit: malabsorption.

The Age Factor:
One significant roadblock to B12 absorption is age. It’s estimated that 10-30% of adults over 50 face difficulties absorbing B12 from food. As a result, it’s recommended that all individuals in this age group consider taking supplemental B12 to ensure they meet their daily requirements.

Digestive Disorders and Eating Disorders:
Chronic digestive disorders and eating disorders can also hinder B12 absorption. Conditions like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and pernicious anaemia can disrupt the body’s ability to absorb B12 from food, making supplementation essential.

Medications Matter:
Several classes of medications interfere with B12 absorption. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and histamine-2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs), commonly used for acid-related issues, can reduce stomach acid, impeding B12 breakdown and absorption. Metformin, a popular drug for type 2 diabetes, is linked to B12 deficiency in 40% of users. Furthermore, anti-seizure medications and chemotherapy drugs can also affect B12 levels.

Intrinsic Factor:
In a small portion of the population, B12 deficiency is caused by a lack of intrinsic factors. This crucial protein, secreted by the stomach lining, binds to vitamin B12 and facilitates its absorption. A weakened stomach lining or certain autoimmune diseases can lead to a deficiency of intrinsic factors. This condition can result in pernicious anemia, and a decrease in red blood cells due to inadequate B12 absorption, which can lead to severe neurological damage if left untreated. Treatment often involves mega-doses of oral B12 or regular B12 injections.

In conclusion, vitamin B12 deficiency is a widespread issue with various underlying causes, with malabsorption being a hidden but significant factor. It’s important to recognise these barriers to absorption and seek appropriate solutions, such as supplementation or medical treatment, to ensure that your body gets the B12 it needs for overall health and well-being. Don’t let malabsorption be the silent contributor to your B12 deficiency – address it and take control of your health.

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