B12 Deficiency Symptoms--B12 Deficiency and Gluten Intolerance
What B12 Deficiency Symptoms Do You Recognize?
One of the most common symptoms of a lack of B12 includes
numbness and tingling in the fingers and toes. This is
often ascribed to diabetes in those taking metformin. While
it is true that diabetes can cause this, it is also possible
that a b12 deficiency is a contributing factor. Particularly
in those who take metformin, which blocks absorption of B12.
If someone with diabetes believes their symptoms have gotten
worse, and doesn't know they have gluten intolerance, they
may be able reverse the changes by using a form of B12 that
they can absorb.
Gait ataxia is also a common symptom of B12 deficiency. In this
case, control over the normal process for walking is disrupted,
causing balance problems, staggering, weaving and other
issues that make walking difficult. This can become
irreversible if the deficiency lasts a long time.
Fatigue that looks like iron deficiency anemia can also be
a symptom. Folate and B12 levels both should be checked, as if
the folate is also low, but only B12 levels are increased with
supplements, the low folate could still result in a form of
anemia and fatigue.
B12 absorption takes place in the area of the terminal ileum of
the small intestine, the last section before the large
intestine. Damage from gluten intolerance can disrupt the
absorption of B12 in this area. This leaves only passive
absorption in the intestine which can absorb about 1% of the
intake. This often results in too low of a level.
Those with celiac disease often have B12 deficiency symptoms,
since they cannot absorb it through the intestine in
sufficient quantity, at least not until the small intestine has
Anyone taking certain medications like antacids, Tagamet and
other H2 receptor antagonists, Metformin for diabetes, gout
medicines, potassium supplements, anticoagulants, cholesterol
lowering drugs, and proton pump inhibitors (for acid reflux)
are even more likely to be deficient as these drugs interfere
with the absorption of B12. Your pharmacist may be able to
advise you if your medication is one that does so.
Celiacs and others with impaired digestion who are taking these
drugs, if deficient in B12, should speak to their doctor about
either having B12 shots or taking sublingual (under the
tongue)lozenges in addition to the daily multivitamin, as they
may not be able to absorb the B12 in the multivitamin through
the intestines. The methylcobalamin form is the most effective
and natural form, as it does not require conversion by the
body. I take gluten free B12 sublingual vitamins available on
at a better price than local stores. It is also available at Sprout's Farmer's Market in my area.
Pernicious anemia is associated with B12 deficiency because a
substance called intrinsic factor, which is produced by the
parietal cells in the stomach, is needed for absorption of
B12. If you are deficient in intrinsic factor, you won't be
able to bind and absorb B12 in the intestine. Infection with H.
Pylori can also cause chronic stomach inflammation and make the
parietal cells unable to produce the intrinsic factor.
Once the intrinsic factor and B12 form a bond, the small
intestine normally has receptors that will take it up.
Calcium from the pancreas is a necessary element for the bonded
B12 to be taken up. So pancreatic insufficiency or small
intestine damage will hinder the uptake.
The autoimmune illness Pernicious Anemia that causes antibodies
to attack the parietal cells gradually makes the intrinsic
factor unavailable. There may be a genetic cause for the
antibody problem. Of those with this condition, about 20% of
their relatives will also have this same autoimmune problem.
If you have Pernicious Anemia, the shots or oral
supplementation will be necessary for the rest of your life.
In celiacs, until the small intestine is healed, the
sublingual form of oral supplementation will be necessary.
If you have B12 deficiency symptoms, please see your doctor
to be tested. So many symptoms are reversible with just
taking B12 shots or sublingual lozenges.
Total Wellness by Joseph Pizzorno, ND
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A Balch, CNC, C 2000.
Wikipedia Article "B Vitamins"
Vitamin B Deficiency
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