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Vitamin Deficiency Anemia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

As the body experiences fall in major vitamins, the healthy blood cells get affected and causes vitamin deficiency anemia in the human body. The major vitamins linked with vitamin deficiency anemia are folate, vitamin B-12 and vitamin C.

Vitamin Deficiency Anemia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Lesser intake of folate, vitamin B-12 and vitamin C causes vitamin deficiency anemia in human body. The vitamin deficiency anemia can also be found if the body is unable to absorb or process these vitamins.

Certain anemia is caused by other deficiencies than vitamin. Lack of iron can also cause blood diseases. A proper medical diagnosis is required before the treatment of anemia is initiated. Eating right diet and in taking correct vitamin supplement can sure anemia faster.

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiency Anemia

The following signs and symptoms are noticed in vitamin deficiency anemia:

  • Tiredness
  • Breathlessness
  • Light headedness
  • Yellowish or pale skin
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Loss of body weight
  • Weakness in hands and feet
  • Weakness in body muscle
  • Changes in behavior
  • Unstable movements
  • Forgetfulness and mental instability.

The signs and symptoms usually flourish over years of vitamin deficiency in the body. The symptoms are fair in the beginning but tend to get worst due to gradual negligence.

Causes of Vitamin Deficiency Anemia

Vitamin deficiency anemia or anemia due to insufficiency of vitamins happens when one’s body lacks those vitamins that required creating sufficient quantity of red blood cells that are beneficial. From the lungs that red blood cells bears oxygen throughout one’s body. If scarcity of vitamins present in one’s diet then anemia regarding vitamin inadequacy can be seen. Often this type of anemia may grow due to bodies in capability to consume the nutrients from the food one takes.

Consuming meat, milk and cheese large number of people receives B12 that is enough for one’s body. Basically, through one’s digestive system such as stomach and intestines vitamin is taken up. Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia takes place when digestive system is unable to consume the vitamin. This can occur if:

  • One has pernicious anemia. In this case, one’s body ruins the cells in stomach that assist one to consume vitamin B12.
  • One has to go through operation to discard that particular part of stomach or the ending part of small intestine known as ileum. This contains some variety of operations used to assist flabby people to reduce weight.
  • One has complications with the way how one’s body absorbs food such as spruce (also known as celiac syndrome), Crohn’s syndrome, and development of bacteria or parasite in small intestine.
  • This kind of anemia can also occur if one does not take enough foods containing B12 but this is uncommon. People who are vegetarian and older adults who refuse to consider variation in food may require taking vitamin tablets regularly to obtain enough B12. Other reasons contain consuming alcohol and taking some advised and non-advised drugs.

Risk Factors for Vitamin Deficiency Anemia

Vitamin deficiency anemia risk factors vary in different types of vitamin deficiency:

Vitamin Folate Deficiency Anemia

The risk of folate deficiency anemia increases when:

  • The person is pregnant but not taking folic acid multivitamins.
  • The person has troubles in intestine and the folate absorption is blocked.
  • The person is a heavy drinker and thus the folate absorption is hindered.
  • The person consumes certain other drugs which hinders folate consumption in the body.
  • The person undergoing hemodialysis for kidney failure. He should be given supplementary folic acid intake during this period.
  • The person is under treatment for cancer and taking drugs which blocks the absorption of folic acid.
  • Inadequate intake of vegetables and fruits in the diet.

Vitamin B-12 Deficiency Anemia or Pernicious Anemia

The risk of Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia or pernicious anemia increases when:

  • The person intakes lesser daily products, meat and other suppliers of vitamin B-12. Vegetarians and the vegans fall mostly under this category.
  • The person’s vitamin B-12 consumption is blocked in the body due to intestinal surgeries.
  • The person lacks intrinsic factors to absorb vitamin B-12.
  • The person consumes certain antacids which hinders the B-12 absorption.
  • The person has autoimmune disorder, such as diabetes or thyroid disease.

Vitamin C Deficiency Anemia

The risk of Vitamin C deficiency anemia increases when:

  • The person remains malnourished and proper vitamins are not supplied to the body.
  • The person consumes more cigarettes.
  • The person consumes excessive alcohol and it hinders the absorption of vitamin C in the body.
  • The person is suffering from any chronic illness such as cancer or chronic kidney disease.

Complications for Vitamin Deficiency Anemia

Vitamin deficiency anemia raises one’s possibility of danger regarding health issues:

  • Vitamin Deficiency Anemia Causes Obstacle in Pregnancy: Pregnant woman with folic acid deficiency may be more probable to undergo complexity like premature birth. Growing fetus that does not obtain enough folic acid from its mother can raise birth abnormalities in brain and spinal cord. If one is planning to conceive a baby, inquire doctor first whether requirement of folic acid supplements is necessary or not so that the storage of folic acid will be good enough to maintain the baby.
  • Vitamin Deficiency Anemia Causes Disturbance in Nervous System: Though vitamin B12 is compulsory for the making of red blood cells, it is also mandatory for a healthful nervous system. Unsorted, vitamin B12 inadequacy can give rise to neurological obstructions like continuous irritation in hands and feet or difficulty in balancing. It can also cause mental perplexity and amnesia because vitamin B-12 is important for nourishing brain function. Without medical care for this disease, neurological difficulties can remain forever. Vitamin B-12 inadequacy can lead to these types of problems and other health issues before it causes to anemia.
  • Vitamin Deficiency Anemia Causes Scurvy: Inadequacy of vitamin C causes scurvy. One can recognize this illness by seeing the bleeding that will be happening under the skin and in the gums.

Tests to Diagnose Vitamin Deficiency Anemia

Physicians prescribe blood tests to diagnose vitamin deficiency anemia to check:

  • The first test includes the count of red blood cells and its appearance in the blood vessels. Anemia affected people are found to be with fewer red blood cells than others. Due to lack of vitamin B-12 and folate, the red blood cells apparently look large and malnourished. In the advanced stages of vitamin deficiencies, the white blood cells and platelets counts might also decrease and appear abnormal as you see through a microscope.
  • Physicians also test to measure the amount of folate, vitamin B-12 and vitamin C in the blood samples. Both folate and vitamin B-12 counts are measured at the same time as the deficiencies of these two have similar indications.

Other Tests for Vitamin Deficiency Anemia in Addition to the Above Mentioned Tests are for B-12 Deficiency:

Vitamin deficiency anemia detected in blood may further seek medical tests to determine the following:

  • Doctors may prescribe an additional antibodies test to determine the count of antibodies to intrinsic factor. The presence of antibodies specifies the pernicious anemia.
  • The person may also need to undergo methylmalonic acid test to determine the amount of methylmalonic acid present in the blood. Higher level of methylmalonic acid denotes vitamin B-12 deficiency in a person.
  • Doctors these days prescribe a schilling test where the person needs to intake a small amount of radioactive vitamin B-12. This test justifies the ability of the body to absorb the vitamin along with the intrinsic factor.

Treatment for Vitamin Deficiency Anemia

A variety of changes in the regular diet and inclusion of supplementary is necessary for the treatment and recovery from vitamin deficiency anemia.

  • Folate Deficiency Anemia: Treatment of this type of anemia includes proper diet as prescribed by the doctor. Usually strong supplements of folate and folic acid are prescribed to recover the person soon. The supplements contain easy breakable and absorbed folic acid components to absorb easily by the human body.
  • Vitamin B-12 Deficiency Anemia (Pernicious Anemia): If the deficiency is on a beginning stage then it is recovered with changes in the diet only. No medication is involved. Persons with a little more deficiency may be prescribed nasal sprays and tablets to supply the required vitamin. However people who are suffering more may have to be on injection courses of the same medicine over a particular period of time.
  • Vitamin C Deficiency Anemia: Treatment for such anemia deficiency is simple and only adds on to the intake of sour fresh items in the daily diet. Tablets with such contents are also available to improve the deficiency faster.


  1. “Vitamin Deficiency Anemia” – Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vitamin-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355025
  2. “Vitamin Deficiency Anemia” – MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000575.htm
  3. “Anemia” – Cleveland Clinic https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14568-anemia

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 19, 2023

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