(Vitamin B-12 Deficiency)
Pernicious Anemia Overview
Pernicious anemia is a type of
anemia (reduced number of red blood
cells or hemoglobin in the body) due to the body's inability to absorb vitamin B-12 from the gastrointestinal tract.
Symptoms from anemia are a result of the decreased capacity of the blood to
carry oxygen and include fatigue and shortness of breath. In addition, the
deficiency of vitamin B-12 also can damage the nervous system.
Vitamin B-12 is also known as cobalamin (Cbl). Animal products, both meat and
dairy, are the only dietary sources of vitamin B-12 for humans. Because the body
has stores of vitamin B-12, inadequate dietary intake must persist for years
before a true deficiency of vitamin B-12 occurs. For this reason, the pernicious
anemia usually takes years to establish and is most commonly diagnosed in adults
with an average age of 60. Also, a rare, form of pernicious anemia is present at
Pernicious anemia is a form of megaloblastic anemia. Megaloblastic anemia is
characterized by an abnormally large type of red blood cell (megaloblast)
that is formed by the bone
marrow when vitamin B-12 or folic acid levels are low.
Megaloblastic anemia can also develop with other conditions that affect the bone
marrow and as an effect of some chemotherapy drugs.
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