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Vitamin Deficiency Anemia
Vitamin deficiency anemia happens when your body has a shortage of healthy red blood cells due to a lack of folate, vitamin B-12, vitamin C or other micro-nutrients. Your body may have trouble absorbing or using these vitamins.
Vitamin deficiencies develop slowly over months and sometimes years. Symptoms may be subtle at first, but they increase as the deficiency worsens.
These tests can help detect and diagnose vitamin deficiency anemia:
- Blood tests checking number and appearance of red blood cells as well as levels of folate, vitamin C and vitamin B-12
- Antibody test to check for proteins
- Methylmalonic acid test: Checks methylmalonic acid levels. People with higher levels of methylmalonic acid often have a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
- Schilling test: Checks to see if you absorb vitamin B-12 normally
Vitamin deficiency anemia may cause some of these symptoms, but other conditions may cause the same symptoms. See a doctor if you have any of these problems:
- Shortness of breath
- Pale or yellowish skin
- Swollen tongue that may appear dark red
- Weight loss
- Numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
- Muscle weakness
- Unsteady movements
Treatment often includes taking vitamin supplements and changing your diet.
- Being pregnant and not taking a vitamin containing folic acid
- Having intestinal problems preventing vitamin absorption
- Abusing alcohol
- Taking medicines that prevent vitamin absorption such as anti-seizure drugs, antacids or type 2 diabetes drugs
- Undergoing hemodialysis (treatment for kidney failure)
- Undergoing cancer treatment
- Not eating a balanced diet containing fruits, vegetables, dairy and other protein-rich foods
- Having another autoimmune disorder