Pervasive B12 Deficiency Affects Millions – How About YOU?
September 15, 2009
The common picture of a B12 deficient patient is an elderly person with pernicious anemia. But B12 deficiency may be caused instead by food-B12 malabsorption.
Food-B12 malabsorption is the inability to release B12 from food or its binding proteins. Unlike pernicious anemia, it’s more likely to be associated with mild, preclinical B12 deficiency.
B12 deficiency is common in elderly patients. One study revealed a prevalence of 12 percent among elderly people. Other studies, focusing on those who are in institutions or who are sick and malnourished, have suggested a higher prevalence of 30 percent to 40 percent. Unfortunately, B12 deficiency is often unrecognized because the clinical manifestations can be very subtle. In fact, one of its manifestations -- mild memory loss -- can mimic the early stages of dementia.
Food-B12 malabsorption is caused primarily by atrophic gastritis. More than 40 percent of patients older than 80 years have gastric atrophy that can be related to h. pylori infection.