Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is treated with
supplements of vitamin B12. When the level of vitamin B12 has returned to
normal, your body will produce more red blood cells and the symptoms will go
away. However, most people need to take supplements for the rest of their lives
to prevent the condition from returning. This is because the usual cause of
vitamin B12 deficiency is poor absorption of the vitamin through the intestine.
If you stop taking the supplements, your B12 level will fall again.
At first, you will get shots of vitamin B12 (100 to 1,000
micrograms [mcg]). You may get a shot every day for 1 week, then once a week
for a month, and then once every month. Or your doctor may have you take pills
(1,000 to 2,000 mcg a day) that contain a higher dose of vitamin B12 than a
regular vitamin pill. You don't need to worry about getting too much vitamin
B12, because your body will pass extra vitamin B12 out in the urine. Most
people feel better within days of beginning treatment.
The symptoms of anemia vary according to the type of anemia, the underlying cause, and any underlying health problems, such as hemorrhaging, ulcers, menstrual problems, or cancer. Specific symptoms of those problems may be noticed first.
The body also has a remarkable ability to compensate for early anemia. If your anemia is mild or has developed over a long period of time, you may not notice any symptoms.
Symptoms common to many types of anemia include the following:
Easy fatigue and loss...
condition is interfering with your body's ability to absorb vitamin B12, your
doctor usually will treat it at the same time as the vitamin deficiency. For
example, a bacterial infection in the bowels can be treated with
Often vitamin B12 deficiency
anemia is not diagnosed until it is moderate to severe. This is because the
anemia develops slowly and the symptoms can be subtle. If your anemia is
severe, you may need a
blood transfusion. In older adults who have
transfusions, special care must be taken to avoid
heart failure or
pulmonary edema. Treatment may not completely correct
the symptoms caused by damage to the brain and nerve cells.
doctor will recheck your vitamin B12 levels in a few months to make sure the
treatment is working. You will need to take your shots or pills just as your
doctor advises to keep the deficiency from returning. Most people need to take
pills or shots for the rest of their lives.
Another form of treatment is a vitamin B12 nasal
spray (Nascobal). But the nasal spray costs more than shots or pills and is not
You can take steps at home to improve your health
by eating a varied diet that includes meat, milk, cheese, and eggs, which are
good sources of vitamin B12. Also eat plenty of foods that contain
folic acid, another type of B vitamin. These include
leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and fortified cereals.
What to Think About
The standard form of
treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency anemia has been shots given into the
muscle (intramuscular). But for many people, vitamin B12 pills can be as
effective as shots. These vitamin B12 pills contain a higher dose of vitamin
B12 than a regular vitamin pill. You don't need to worry about getting too much
vitamin B12, because your body will pass extra vitamin B12 out in the urine.
Pills are also less expensive and more convenient. If you have been getting
shots, you might want to ask your doctor if you could switch to pills. You may
need follow-up testing to make sure your body is absorbing the vitamin.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
December 19, 2008
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this