Anemia is an illness that involves a severe depletion of healthy red blood cells, resulting in a decline in oxygen throughout your body (hypoxia). There are several types of anemia, including many different causes that lead to red blood cell deficiency and abnormally low hemoglobin levels.
One common symptoms of anemia is chronic fatigue, constant mental and physical exhaustion, despite sleeping well and eating healthy. This includes feeling tired from morning until nighttime, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, feebleness, and intense sadness. Chronic fatigue in anemia is a sign that your brain cells are not receiving enough oxygen to function normally.
Other signs of anemia include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, abnormal heart rate, and loss of appetite. These also result from a shortage in oxygen to your body’s vital organs.
What causes anemia?
Anemia is not always a congenital disorder; sometimes, anemia is acquired as a result of an injury or lifestyle habit.
Below are some causes of anemia.
- Blood loss: Severe blood loss from a surgery or injury can result in red blood cell depletion. Women who suffer extremely heavy periods or experience complications during childbirth may develop anemia, as well. Causes of anemia from rapid blood loss include heavy menstruation, hemorrhage during childbirth, surgical lesions, physical trauma, and bleeding ulcers.
- Inherited disease: Fanconi anemia, sickle-cell anemia, thalassemia, bone marrow disorder, pernicious anemia, and red blood cell depletion from kidney disease are examples of congenital anemia.
- Nutritional deficiency: Anemia often results from vitamin deficiencies and inadequate absorption of minerals, including vitamin B12, folate, and iron.
- Medications and treatments: Anemia can also result from exposure to toxins during chemotherapy, or from lead poisoning. Certain medicines like aspirin may cause gastrointestinal bleeding that leads to anemia.
Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia
Vitamin B12 is instrumental for many important bodily functions, including the production of healthy red blood cells. With vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, you cannot absorb vitamin B12 naturally from food sources, due to a lack of intrinsic factor, a crucial digestive enzyme for vitamin B12 absorption.
One thing that happens when vitamin B12 levels are low is that your red blood cells develop abnormally large and grossly misshapen. Instead of delivering oxygen to your many vital organs, your red blood cells remain trapped in your bone marrow, unable to escape because of their deformity.
This type of anemia, pernicious anemia, is one of several types of megaloblastic anemia, a disease characterized by red blood cell depletion due to large, irregularly shaped red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia can result from an autoimmune disorder, but it can also occur with gastritis, damage to the stomach and intestines.
Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia (pernicious anemia) is one of the most common forms of malnutrition, striking millions of individuals of wide age groups, though the earliest signs of vitamin B12 deficiency anemia usually occur in middle age.
The only treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is routine supplementation of nonedible vitamin B12 supplements. It’s important to avoid taking vitamin B12 pills that you swallow, as the lack of intrinsic factor inhibits your ability to break down vitamin B12 in the stomach.
Good sources of vitamin B12 for sufferers of pernicious anemia include:
- Vitamin B12 injections
- Sublingual vitamin B12 tablets
- Sublingual liquid vitamin B12 drops
- Nonedible over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements