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Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is one of several types of megaloblastic anemia. Megaloblastic anemia is a type of anemia characterized by very large red blood cells. Also, the inner contents of each cell are not completely developed. This causes the bone marrow to produce fewer cells, and sometimes the cells die earlier than normal. Instead of being round or disk-shaped, the red blood cells can be oval.
Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia and folate deficiency anemia are the most common causes of megaloblastic anemia. Pernicious anemia is a subtype of B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is more common in people of northern European descent. The condition is caused by one of the following:
Risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency anemia include:
The following are the most common symptoms for megaloblastic anemia. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of megaloblastic anemia may look like other blood conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
This type of anemia is usually found during a medical exam through a routine blood test. In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for megaloblastic anemia may include additional blood tests and other evaluation procedures, such as a bone marrow biopsy.
Specific treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency anemia will be determined by your health care provider based on:
Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia and folate deficiency anemia often occur together and can be difficult to tell apart. Treatment may include vitamin B12 injections and folic acid pills. Foods that are rich in folic acid include the following:
Foods that are rich in folic acid and vitamin B12 include the following:
Taking folic acid by mouth is more effective than eating foods rich in folic acid. B12 is not as well absorbed by mouth as per injection.
Depending on the cause of your vitamin B12 deficiency, it may be necessary to receive vitamin B12 supplementary for the rest of your life. Although this may seem inconvenient, this allows you to live a normal life without symptoms. If your deficiency is due to a restrictive diet, you may want to work with a nutritionist to assure that you have an adequate intake of vitamin B12 and other vitamins. It is important to inform your health care provider of any symptoms and to follow your treatment plan.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
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