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Are B12 injections necessary for pernicious anemia?

Posted Oct 01 2008 8:12pm 5 Comments

Most people with pernicious anemia can a cured by taking a 1000 microgram pill of vitamin B12 once a day; they usually do not need to take injections. Pernicious anemia is due to lack of vitamin B12 which results in progressive nerve damage that causes forgetfulness, loss of ability to concentrate and abnormal nerve sensations such as burning, itching or loss of feeling. However, many people with pernicious anemia do not have abnormally low blood levels of vitamin B12. One study showed that older people have lower blood levels of a chemical called homotranscobalamin II that carries vitamin B12 into the cells, so they need higher blood levels of B12 to have normal tissue levels.

The diagnosis of pernicious anemia is often made late in the course of the disease after a person has suffered permanent nerve damage. One report showed that two percent of Americans over 60 have low blood levels of vitamin B12, but the incidence of vitamin B12 deficiency causing nerve damage in older people is much higher than that, perhaps as high a 50 percent. Many older people who are diagnosed with senility actually suffer from lack of vitamin B12. Lack of vitamin B12 also can cause heart attacks, so all people over 60 should be screened for B12 deficiency. Those with normal levels of B12 who have symptoms of nerve damage or arteriosclerosis should also get a blood test called homocysteine. Low levels of B12 can be associated with stomach diseases, absorption problems and infections such as Helicobacter pylori. See my reports on Helicobacter and Celiac Sprue.

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Comments (5)
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I'm 29 years old and I have Pernicous Anemia.  Pernicious anemia is caused by the lack of intrinsic factor that binds to the B12 so it can be absorbed through the stomach.  So for people who don't have intrinsic factor can't absorb B12 in their stomach...therefore injections are necessary.

 It sounds like your talking about Vitamin B12 deficiency Doc....there is a difference I was told by my doctors.

Also...Pernicous Anemia is an autoimmune disease......so there is no cure, but with lifetime B12 injections....you can remain symptom free once the B12 levels are restored.
i agree with klee, i get injections once a month, and im only 26 had it for bout 2-3 years and would love an alternative to this, as it gets expensive, and do not like injections, but we have to do it.
Wachel, it's nice to finally meet a young person with PA, and knows what its like. PA was my first autoimmune diagnosis...last year I was also diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis, yuck! Unfortunately the b12 injections is my least expensive medication, but I only do once monthly injections. How often do you have your injections?
Klee, glad you pointed that out. Yes, definitely a difference between Pernicious Anemia and deficiency. My husband has to have the injections every ten days to maintain okay. I am trying to find out where to get them now because the USA has a nation-wide shortage and our local pharmacies cannot get it anymore. What is everyone that has pernicious anemia doing?
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