CAUSES & RISK FACTORS
KNOWN CAUSES & RISKS
An simple inability to absorb vitamin B12 from food is a common cause of the deficiency. Reasons for this are currently not fully understood.
A diet lacking in meat,fish or dairy products will result in a deficiency unless supplemented with vitamin B12 (usually as a tablet or pill).
Part of the complex process of converting food into B12 in your bloodstream requires Intrinsic Factor (I.F.), a protein produced in the parietal cells of the stomach. If an inflammation in the stomach lining occurs the body’s ability to produce Intrinsic Factor can be compromised, thus inhibiting the conversion of B12.
PERNICIOUS ANEMIA (P.A.)
P.A. is an autoimmune disease where the body creates antibodies which are directed against the Intrinsic Factor or Parietal Cells thus leading to a deficiency in I.F.
A wide range of commonly prescribed drugs can have an impact on the body’s processing of B12 – and no mention is made of this in the list of side effects in each packet. The commonest of these are the contraceptive pill and drugs such as Omeprazole and Lansoprazole for treating acid reflux and stomach ulcers.
Sometimes used as a general anaesthetic nitrous oxide will cause the body’s store of B12 to become inactive. Not a
problem in an otherwise healthy person but can have severe consequences for anyone already deficient.
Certain types of surgery – notably gastric bypass surgery – can greatly affect the body’s ability to extract B12 and will require
supplementation by regular injection.
INBORN ERROR OF COBALAMIN - certain genetic defects can cause the body to be unable to process vitamin B12.