Fatigue, B-12 Deficiency & Pernicious Anemia

How is fatigue linked to vitamin B-12 deficiency?  Well, the answer is pretty straightforward:

  • The body requires vitamin B-12 in order to produce red blood cells.
  • Red blood cells carry energy (oxygen) throughout the body.
  • If the body lacks vitamin B-12 for whatever reason, it makes fewer red blood cells and the ones it does make are abnormal – they can’t transport energy nearly as efficiently.

Red blood cellsSo you feel low-energy because your red blood cells are low-energy!

Aside from diet, the most common cause of B-12 deficiency is pernicious anemia.  In pernicious anemia, the body stops producing  intrinsic factor (IF), the digestive enzyme necessary to absorb B-12The most common reason is plain old age – the parietal cells atrophy and just stop making IF.

Pernicious anemia doesn’t effect all people equally; some people are more likely to get it than others.  Pernicious anemia

  • is more commonly found in those of northern European descent and Africans (southern Europeans and Asians are less effected),
  • occurs in equally amongst men and women,
  • seems to run in families, so if you have a family member with it you are much more at risk,
  • is frequently seen with autoimmune disorders (particularly those affecting the thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenals).

Aside from fatigue, what are the other symptoms of pernicious anemia related B-12 deficiency?  Quite a few!  Dizziness, ringing in the ears, pale or yellowish skin,  sore and brightly red tongue, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping, numbness, tingling, or burning in the arms, legs, hands, and feet, muscle weakness, irritability, confusion, depression and more.

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