Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Pernicious Anemia

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You may have heard of people who have to get vitamin B12 shots because of a condition called pernicious anemia. What is this, how is it different from other anemia, and what are the symptoms?

Pernicious anemia is a deficiency of the B12 vitamin. Vitamins do not provide nutrition to the body on their own, rather they work with food or other elements in the body such as bacterias and enzymes to help the body work properly. Their absorption is also affected by other substances in the body, some that are already there, and some that people may ingest. In order to absorb vitamin B12, the body uses a substance called intrinsic factor, which is produced by the stomach. Some peoples bodies either do not produce intrinsic factor at all, or they do not produce enough to effectively process vitamin B12 taken through food sources (like milk) or oral supplements. Older people may suffer from pernicious anemia even if they did not have it earlier in life, because as we age, our bodies produce less intrinsic factor. Also, more women than men suffer from it. People with pernicious anemia have to receive B12 by injection, because this form does not require combination with intrinsic...

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