Vitamin deficiency anemia is a lack of healthy red blood cells caused by lower than usual amounts of vitamin B-12 and folate.
This may occur if your body has problems absorbing or processing vitamin B-12 and folate, or if you don’t consume enough of these foods.
The body makes too-big, improperly functioning red blood cells when these nutrients aren’t present. Their capacity to hold oxygen is lowered as a result.
Exhaustion, dyspnea, and vertigo are possible symptoms. Injections or pills containing vitamin supplements can make up for the deficiency.
Anemia caused by a vitamin deficiency typically progresses gradually over months or years. Although they could start out mild, signs and symptoms typically get worse as the deficiency gets worse. They could consist of:
- Feeling out of breath
- Pale or yellowish skin
- abnormal heartbeats
- Loss of weight
- tingling or numbness in the feet and hands
- weakened muscles
- Changes in personality
- Unsteady movements
- Confusion or forgetfulness of the mind
Inadequate consumption of foods high in vitamin B-12 and folate, as well as problems with your body’s absorption or processing of these nutrients, can result in vitamin deficiency anemia.
Deficiencies in vitamin B-12
Low vitamin B-12 levels may result from:
- Nutrition. Since meat, eggs, and milk are the main sources of vitamin B-12, those who don’t eat these foods may need to take supplements. Certain foods, such as several breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast products, have been fortified with B-12.
- Pernicious anemia. This disorder develops when the stomach’s intrinsic factor-producing cells are attacked by the immune system. The intestines cannot absorb B-12 without this material.
- Gastric surgeries. The amount of intrinsic factor generated and the amount of space available for the absorption of vitamin B-12 may be reduced if surgically removed portions of your stomach or intestines.
- Intestinal problems. Vitamin B-12 absorption can be hampered by Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and tapeworms that may be consumed through contaminated seafood.
Deficiencies in folate
Folate, also referred to as vitamin B-9, is mostly present in liver and dark green leafy vegetables. People who are unable to absorb folate from meals or who avoid foods containing folate may have a folate deficit.
Issues with absorption could be brought on by:
- Intestinal conditions like celiac disease
- Excision or bypass surgery on a sizable portion of the intestines
- Excessive use of alcoholic beverages
- Prescription pharmaceuticals, including several anti-seizure medicines
The need for folate is higher in breastfeeding and pregnant women, as well as in patients receiving dialysis for renal illness.
Pregnancy-related birth abnormalities may result from a deficiency in folate. However, in nations where folate is regularly added to food items like breads, cereals, and pasta, folate insufficiency is becoming less common.
Deficiency in vitamin B-12 or folate raises the risk of numerous health issues, such as:
- Pregnancy-related issues. If a growing fetus does not receive enough folate from its mother, brain and spinal cord birth abnormalities may result.
- Diseases of the nervous system. A vitamin B-12 deficiency left untreated can result in neurological issues like tingling in the hands and feet that doesn’t go away or balance issues. It can cause mental disorientation and amnesia since vitamin B-12 is required for normal brain function.
- Stomach cancer. Intestinal or stomach malignancies are more common in those with pernicious anemia.
A balanced, nutrient-rich diet can help you avoid certain types of vitamin deficiency anemia.
Vitamin B-12-rich foods include:
- Fish, chicken, beef, and liver
- Enhanced food items, like cereals for breakfast
- Yogurt, cheese, and milk
High-foliate foods include:
- lima beans, broccoli, spinach, and asparagus
- Melons, bananas, strawberries, lemons, and oranges
- Products made using enhanced grains, include bread, cereal, pasta, and rice
- Peanuts, yeast, kidneys, liver, and mushrooms
The majority of adults require the following daily dietary quantities of vitamins:
Vitamin B-12 — 2.4 micrograms (mcg)
Folate or folic acid — 400 microgram (mcg)
Women who are nursing or pregnant could need more of each vitamin.
The majority of people consume enough vitamins from their diet. However, you may want to take a multivitamin if you have had gastric bypass surgery or if your diet is restricted.