Pernicious Anemia is a genetic condition that causes a vitamin B12 deficiency. A person with pernicious anemia is missing the stomach cells that produce intrinsic factor, a protein that is necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is made in the guts of animals. We obtain this vitamin from eating meat, chicken, eggs and dairy products. An enzyme in our stomach – called pepsin – separates the vitamin B12 from the protein. The vitamin B12 is then picked up by intrinsic factor, a protein manufactured by parietal cells. The intrinsic factor carries the B12 to the ileum, a section of the intestine. Receptor cells in the ileum assimilate the vitamin B12 into the bloodstream. In the absence of intrinsic factor, the B12 is useless.
Pernicious anemia is a blood disorder, due to a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the formation of red blood cells. Someone who has pernicious anemia has fewer red blood cells. Our organs derive energy from oxygen, which are delivered by the red blood cells throughout the body. When there are insufficient red blood cells, a person has less oxygen and becomes tired.
Vitamin B12 is also necessary for nerve cell formation. A vitamin B12 deficiency leads to a host of neurological problems. Therefore, additional symptoms of pernicious anemia include weakness, pale skin, dizziness, shortness of breath, loss of muscle control, cold hands and feet, headaches and memory loss.
Pernicious anemia needs to be treated with supplementation of vitamin B12 and folic acid. If it is not treated, the nerve cells will ultimately die and neuropathy takes place.
There are countless stories of people who were suffering from pernicious anemia, but were misdiagnosed and treated with ineffective medications. These people nearly died as a result. Awareness of the signs and symptoms of this disorder will lead to proper treatment. If you are suffering from the symptoms mentioned above, get your blood plasma B12 levels checked immediately.