What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Inadequate Dietary Intake
One of the primary causes of vitamin B12 deficiency is not consuming enough foods rich in this essential nutrient. Vitamin B12 is predominantly found in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Individuals following strict vegetarian or vegan diets may be at a higher risk of deficiency unless they supplement or consume fortified foods.
Even if you consume sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, certain factors can interfere with its absorption in the body. Conditions that affect the stomach's ability to produce intrinsic factor – a protein necessary for vitamin B12 absorption – can lead to malabsorption. Examples include pernicious anemia, an autoimmune condition, and gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn's disease or celiac disease.
As we age, our bodies may become less efficient at absorbing vitamin B12 from food sources. This can be because of reduced stomach acid production or changes in gastrointestinal function. Older adults are more susceptible to developing vitamin B12 deficiency.
Certain medications can interfere with vitamin B12 absorption or increase its excretion from the body, leading to deficiency over time. Examples include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) used for acid reflux, metformin prescribed for diabetes management, and certain anti-seizure medications.