What is Vitamin Deficiency Anemia?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 23 February 2020
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When a person has a very low count of red blood cells, he or she may have a condition known as anemia. Anemia can be the result of several different conditions. Vitamin deficiency anemia can occur when the body does not receive an adequate amount of nutrition.

Vitamin deficiency anemia most commonly affects people who are malnourished due to poverty and lack of food. Typical development of the disease occurs over several months or years of nutrient deficiency. Signs of the condition usually appear gradually.

Anemia resulting from a vitamin deficiency is marked by several different symptoms. Patients may experience numbness or tingling in hands or tingling in feet. Memory difficulties and mental confusion can result. As with many other nutrient deficiencies, weight loss may also occur. People with vitamin deficiency anemia may experience trembling, muscle weakness, diarrhea, fatigue, pale or yellowed skin, a sore mouth or tongue, and irritability.

The nutrient vitamin B-9, also known as folate or folic acid, is required to prevent anemia. Vitamin deficiency anemia occurs when the body does not receive adequate amounts of folate. This can be due to an insufficient or poor diet lacking citrus fruits and green, leafy vegetables. The usual culprit, however, is the lack of an intrinsic factor, or a stomach protein, that the body needs in order to absorb folate.


Deficiencies of vitamin C can also lead to anemia. Since vitamin C is required for red blood cells to properly develop, the cells can diminish in both quantity and quality when the body lacks the vitamin. Absorption of iron, a mineral red blood cells need, is also dependent on an adequate intake of vitamin C.

Many other causes of anemia also exist. Drinking large quantities of alcohol can deplete the amount of folate in the body, leading to anemia. Women who are breastfeeding or pregnant may pass their folate onto their children; if they do not consume enough of the nutrient to replace this loss, they can become anemic. Bacteria, malnutrition, small intestine disease, cancer drugs, tapeworm, hyperthyroidism, and kidney disease can also cause anemia.

Lack of red blood cells presents a potentially life-threatening problem. Without sufficient healthy red blood cells, the body cannot receive the amount of oxygen it requires for healthy day to day operations. Many people live for years without being diagnosed. If discovered, vitamin deficiency anemia can usually be treated with vitamin supplements or injections, and an improved diet.



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