B12 Deficiency Anemia

B12 Deficiency Anemia: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

B12 deficiency anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, due to a lack of vitamin B12. This type of anemia is also known as megaloblastic anemia, as it causes larger-than-normal red blood cells to be produced. It can cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, pale skin, and shortness of breath. Treatment typically involves taking vitamin B12 supplements and eating foods that are rich in the vitamin.


The most common cause of B12 deficiency anemia is not getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet. This may be due to poor dietary choices, food allergies, or difficulty with digestion. Other causes include having a condition that affects the absorption of vitamin B12, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or an autoimmune disorder. Additionally, some medications can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12, such as certain antibiotics, diabetes drugs, and proton pump inhibitors.


The most common symptom of B12 deficiency anemia is fatigue, however there are many other possible symptoms, including:

  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Weakness or numbness in the extremities
  • Sore mouth or tongue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea or constipation


B12 deficiency anemia is typically diagnosed through a physical examination, medical history, and blood tests. A complete blood count (CBC) may show low hemoglobin levels, which can indicate anemia. A micronutrient panel may be taken to measure vitamin B12 levels in the blood. Other tests that may be used to diagnose the condition include a serum homocysteine test, methylmalonic acid test, and liver function test.


The primary treatment for B12 deficiency anemia is taking vitamin B12 supplements. This may be taken as a pill, or as an injection. However, these supplements are not effective if a person’s digestive system is not functioning properly, as the vitamin cannot be absorbed. If this is the case, vitamin B12 shots may be prescribed. In addition to treatment with supplements, it is important to make dietary changes to ensure adequate vitamin B12 intake.

Foods that are high in vitamin B12 include beef, liver, fish, eggs, dairy products, and fortified cereals. Vitamin B12 in foods is typically found in the form of a protein called cobalamin, which needs to be broken down into a form that the body can absorb. This process is impaired in people with digestive issues, which can affect their ability to get enough vitamin B12 from food sources.