Many of us, particularly women, regularly fail to listen to our bodies and accept a life of mediocre health.
One vitamin in particular, B12, is especially important. It is essential for red blood cell production, the bonding process of nucleic acids to proteins, and nerve health. In severe deficiencies there can even be irreversible nerve damage. Your long-term health and overall well-being cannot afford to overlook an insufficient intake of this vitamin.
Although the lack of vitamin B12 is a long process and the appearance of the symptoms is more or less serious it is not surprising that this takes even years. The body begins to manifest certain symptoms that are often not detected but that occur as a result of certain factors.
1) Lack of intrinsic factor
The intrinsic factor is a molecule secreted in the stomach that allows the absorption of vitamin B12 in the large intestine. For this binding between the intrinsic factor and vitamin B12 to occur, there must be a normal degree of acidity in the stomach. When anemia is caused by a lack of intrinsic factor, it is called pernicious anemia.
2) Low acidity in the stomach
In the elderly, 65% of deficiencies in vitamin B12 have to do with the lack of gastric acidity. With age, stomach cells secrete less gastric acid and, at the same time, less intrinsic factor. The habitual and prolonged intake of antacid medicines but in particular of the class of proton pump inhibitors, increase the risk.
3) Metformin treatment.
People who take treatments that include Metformin, usually to treat diabetes, have more risks of vitamin B12 deficiency.
4) Autoimmune disease
In these cases, the antibodies will bind to the intrinsic factor making it unable to synthesize vitamin B12. This is the case of diseases such as Graves disease, thyroid, vitiligo, etcetera.
5) Chronic intestinal disease
A chronic intestinal disease prevents the passage of vitamin B12 through the intestinal walls, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or celiac disease. The intake of vitamin supplements is what is usually proposed in order to prevent deficiencies. In the case of celiac disease, absorption of vitamin B12 becomes normal once a gluten-free diet is adopted. Any other disease that leads to malabsorption, such as chronic pancreatitis or very rarely an infestation of parasites, can also cause vitamin B12 deficiency.
6) Certain surgeries of the stomach or large intestine
Patients receive preventive vitamin B12 supplements.
Anemia can also be attributed to a lack of vitamin B12 in the diet. But this situation is quite uncommon since small amounts of the vitamin are necessary to cover the needs of the organism. On the other hand, vitamin B12 has the capacity to generate important reserves that may be sufficient and cover the needs for three or four years.