Medical Q&As

Vitamin B12

What does it mean if your vitamin B12 level is low? What is the cure?

Vitamin B12 is also known as cyanocobalamin. As the name suggests it is one of the B group of vitamins. B12 deficiency can cause enlargement of the red blood cells, which in turn gives rise to anaemia. Levels can be low as a result of inadequate absorption as seen with pernicious anaemia, people who have undergone a gastrectomy (partial removal of the stomach) or in cases where there is a general failure of absorption of nutrients from the gut. Sometimes it is seen in very strict vegetarians. It can also be seen in people with a history of Crohn’s disease or those suffering from ulcerative colitis. Very rarely it can be seen in bacterial infection or parasitic infestation of the gut. B12 levels are restored to normal by regular injection of B12 into the buttock. Oral replacement is very inefficient because massive oral doses have to be used because the gut fails to absorb most of what is ingested.