Tag Archives: Gastrointestinal disorders

Vitamin B12 Deficiency with Crohn’s Disease: 3 Risk Factors

Vitamin B12 Deficiency with Crohn’s: Vitamin B12 deficiency is a condition that is often comorbid with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). For prevention, it’s important to test for vitamin B12 deficiency in its earliest stages.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency with Crohn’s Disease

There are many risk factors that increase your odds for vitamin B12 malabsorption, the leading cause of vitamin B12 deficiency, and many of them occur with Crohn’s disease and other forms of gastrointestinal illnesses.

Here are three basic risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency that correlate with Crohn’s disease:

Three basic risk factors are:

1) Digestive tract damage

With Crohn’s, damage to the digestive tract makes it difficult for the stomach cells to produce intrinsic factor (IF), a necessary enzyme for digesting vitamin B12 from the foods you eat. The less IF you have, the fewer vitamin B12 molecules make it into your blood stream. Instead, vitamin B12 passes through your digestive system, unabsorbed. Lack of intrinsic factor is the main cause of pernicious anemia, a condition that occurs with long-term vitamin B12 deficiency.

2) Gastro surgery

If you have had gastrointestinal surgery to treat Crohn’s disease, such as removal of the ileum, then you are also at risk for dangerously low vitamin B12. This is because the ileum plays a crucial role in the last step of vitamin B12 absorption- detaching the B12 molecules from intrinsic factor and depositing it into the blood stream. Bariatric surgeries such as gastric bypass are also high risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency caused by corrective surgery.

3) Medications

Some of the medications used to treat Crohn’s disease can ultimately interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, as well.  Long-term antibiotics,protein pump inhibitors (PPIs), and other acid reflux medications are included in a list of drugs that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, resulting in vitamin B12 deficiency.

Treating B12 deficiency

If you suspect you have vitamin B12 deficiency, then take the following steps.

Get tested

Don’t put off getting a blood test to check your vitamin B12 levels; in fact, you should be testing a few times per year, if you aren’t already. A routine blood test can tell you if you are have medium-low or severely low serum vitamin B12 levels.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency

Don’t rely on blood tests alone to determine if you are approaching vitamin B12 deficiency, as the tests are not always accurate, and don’t measure complete “active vitamin B12” molecules.

To catch vitamin B12 deficiency in its earliest stages, it’s good to recognize the symptoms:

  • Crushing fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Memory problems
  • Painful numbness and tingling in the fingers, toes, hands, and feet

Take daily B12

With vitamin B12 malabsorption, you will not get enough vitamin B12 from foods or from pills that you swallow. Instead, your doctor will recommend taking large doses of vitamin B12 in a non-dietary form, such as vitamin B12 injections and/or similarly potent vitamin B12 supplements that are absorbed directly into your blood through the skin.

What’s your take?

If you’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, has your doctor fully explained the risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency?

Do you feel that you get just the right amount of vitamin B12 that you need to keep symptoms at bay, or do you feel that your prescription should allow for more vitamin B12 injections than you’re currently receiving?

In addition to getting vitamin B12 shots, what other forms of vitamin B12 do you use?

Please feel free to leave comments below. We love to hear from you!


  • The Most Overlooked Risk of Stomach Bloating

    Gassy, painful stomach bloating from indigestion may mean that you need more of an essential vitamin in your blood supply. If your gut feels like a war zone, then experts recommend getting tested for vitamin B12 deficiency, a form of anemia linked to gastritis.

    The Most Overlooked Risk of Stomach Bloating

    Stomach bloating? Check your B12.

    B12 deficiency in the gut

    To digest vitamin B12 from food, you need to have a healthy ecosystem in your gastrointestinal tract. Good bacteria winning the battle over the bad, proper absorption of nutrients, and all that.

    But for many, damage to the parietal cells of the stomach, acid reflux, and medication overuse lead to a vicious cycle of vitamin B12 anemia that feeds into constant symptoms of fatigue, stomach bloating, sore muscles, dizziness, and memory problems.

    Symptoms of pernicious anemia include stomach bloating, and also diarrhea, heartburn, brain fog, painful numbness in the hands and legs, cognitive impairments, and more.

    Stomach bloating and other symptoms

    The following symptoms, if they occur often, may indicate a breakdown in your digestive system that requires immediate treatment in order to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency anemia:

    • Acid reflux
    • Heartburn
    • Vomiting
    • Abdominal pain
    • Chest pains
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea
    • Stomach bloating
    • Hardening of the stomach
    • Loss of appetite
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • “Lump” in your throat
    • Diarrhea
    • Constipation
    • Frequent burping
    • Flatulence

    Vitamin B12 malabsorption

    Foods that contain vitamin B12 are meats, chicken, fish, milk, and eggs. Generally, as long as you eat a steady non-vegan diet, you’re guaranteed a plentiful supply of vitamin B12 for good health…

    …Unless you suffer from vitamin B12 malabsorption. The inability to break down vitamin B12 happens when you don’t have enough intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme produced in your stomach that helps to grab vitamin B12 from food and “escort” it through your intestines and into your blood supply.

    Gastritis (stomach inflammation) is one of the most common causes of vitamin B12 malabsorption.

    Yes- stomach damage can cause vitamin B12 deficiency.

    What Causes Vitamin B12 Malabsorption?

    Gastrointestinal disorders

    If you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, then your risk of becoming ill from pernicious anemia– severe vitamin B12 deficiency- is greater than most.

    Damage to the walls of the stomach and intestinal tract, particularly the bottommost part (ileum), makes it impossible to get crucial vitamin B12 into your blood stream without direct insertion of nondietary liquid vitamin B12 supplements.

    Other illnesses that cause enough gastrointestinal distress to interfere with vitamin B12 absorption include fibromyalgia, migraines, celiac, lupus, and chronic stomach ulcers.                       

    Gastro surgery

    If you’re an IBD patient who has elected for corrective surgery to treat chronic stomach bloating, indigestion, ulcers, and stomach pain, then you must supplement with high doses of vitamin B12 from a reliable source, in order to prevent becoming anemic.

    Weight loss surgery recipients who undergo gastric bypass are also included in that risk category for pernicious anemia.

    Autoimmune disorders

    You may not able to get enough vitamin B12 simply because your body identifies intrinsic factor as a danger, and attacks it. If you suffer from immune system dysfunctions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or celiac disease, then it’s important to get your vitamin B12 levels checked regularly.

    Better yet, begin a routine of supplemental vitamin B12 as a preventive measure against pernicious anemia. There’s no danger of taking too much vitamin B12, since it is safe in all amounts.

    Please tell us…

    Have you been experiencing stomach bloating and other signs of digestive disorders, but didn’t realize they were connected to vitamin B12 deficiency?

    If you suffer from gastrointestinal issues such as Crohn’s disease, gastroesophageal disorder (GERD),  or ulcerative colitis, do you feel that you ‘re getting enough vitamin B12 from your doctor to combat deficiency?

    Image by Ohmega1982