Red blood cells use a substance called hemoglobin to carry oxygen to the body.
Anemia is a general term for having fewer than normal red blood cells or an abnormally low amount of hemoglobin in each red blood cell.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency
Vitamin B12 and folic acid play several important roles in the body, including maintaining a healthy nervous system.
A deficiency in any of these vitamins can cause a variety of problems, including:
lack of energy
pins and needles
sore, red tongue
problems with your vision
psychological problems that can range from mild depression and anxiety to confusion and dementia
problems with memory, perception, and judgment
Some of these problems may occur if you are deficient in vitamin B12 or folic acid but are not anemic.
When to see your GP?
If you think you may be deficient in vitamin B12 or folic acid, see your doctor.
These disorders can usually be diagnosed based on symptoms and blood test results.
It is important to diagnose and treat vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anemia as soon as possible.
Because many symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition may be irreversible.
Causes of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency
There are several problems that can lead to vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency.
pernicious anemia – your immune system attacks healthy cells in your stomach, preventing you from absorbing vitamin B12 from the food you eat; It is the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK
lack of these vitamins in your diet – this is rare, but it can happen if you follow a vegan diet, do not take vitamin B12 supplements, do not eat foods fortified with vitamin B12, follow a restricted diet, or have a long-term poor diet. time
medications – some medications, including anticonvulsants and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), can affect the amount of these vitamins your body absorbs.
Vitamin B12 deficiency and folic acid deficiency are more common in older people, affecting 1 in 10 people aged 75 and over and 1 in 20 aged 65 to 74.
Treatment of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anemia
In most cases, vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies can be treated with injections or tablets to replace the missing vitamins.
Vitamin B12 supplements are usually given by injection.
Then, depending on whether your B12 deficiency is related to your diet, you may need to take B12 tablets between meals or as regular injections.
Treatment may continue until your vitamin B12 levels improve, or you may need lifelong treatment.
Folic acid tablets are used to restore folate levels. These usually need to be taken for 4 months.
In some cases, improving the diet can cure the disease and prevent recurrence.
Vitamin B12 is found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, yeast extracts (such as Marmite) and specially fortified foods.
Good sources of folate include green vegetables such as cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and chickpeas.
Complications of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anemia
It’s rare, but vitamin B12 or folate deficiency (with or without anemia) can cause complications, especially if you’ve had vitamin B12 or folate deficiency for some time.
Possible complications may include:
problems with the nervous system
pregnancy complications and birth defects
Adults with severe anemia are at risk for heart failure.
Some complications improve with appropriate treatment, but others, such as problems with the nervous system, are sometimes permanent.