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Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, a gland located in the upper abdomen 1. The pancreas secretes enzymes that are useful in the digestion of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is important in the production of healthy red blood cells and in the maintenance of healthy nerve cells, according to MayoClinic.com 1. Pancreatitis may be caused by a deficiency in vitamin B-12 1.
Deficiency of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B-12 is absorbed in the stomach. Deficiency of vitamin B-12 occurs due to lack of intrinsic factor, a protein made in the stomach, according to Oregon State University 2. Intrinsic factor helps extract vitamin B-12 from food during digestion. Factors that affect the presence of intrinsic factor include surgeries that remove parts of the stomach and the use of antacids for a long period of time. Patients must eat foods containing vitamin B-12 such as red meat, eggs, shellfish, poultry and dairy products in order to prevent vitamin B-12 deficiency.
- Vitamin B-12 is absorbed in the stomach.
- Factors that affect the presence of intrinsic factor include surgeries that remove parts of the stomach and the use of antacids for a long period of time.
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Vitamin B-12 deficiency leads to a form of anemia known as pernicious anemia, according to Oregon State University 2. Pernicious anemia affects the digestive system organs including the pancreas because of lack of flow of oxygen rich blood to the organs. Symptoms of pernicious anemia include:
- pale skin
- shortness of breath
- red tongue
- problems concentrating
Permanent Pancreas Damage
Lack of treatment of pernicious anemia can lead to permanent damage to body organs such as the heart, nerves and digestive system organs such as the pancreas, according to Oregon State University 2. Treatment of pernicious anemia involves lifelong vitamin B-12 injections. Some patients may find benefit from vitamin B-12 tablets, multivitamins containing vitamin B-12 and changes in diet.
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- MayoClinic.com: Pancreatitis
- Oregon State University: Vitamin B12
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Pernicious anemia.
- Andres E, Serraj K. Optimal management of pernicious anemia. J Blood Med. 2012;3:97-103. doi:10.2147/JBM.S25620
- Murphy G, Dawsey SM, Engels EA, et al. Cancer risk after pernicious anemia in the US elderly population. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015;13(13):2282-9.e94. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2015.05.040
- Green R. Vitamin B12 deficiency from the perspective of a practicing hematologist. Blood. 2017 May 11;129(19):2603-2611. doi:10.1182/blood-2016-10-569186
- Kulnigg-Dabsch S. Autoimmune gastritis. Autoimmungastritis. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2016;166(13-14):424-430. doi:10.1007/s10354-016-0515-5
- Langan RC, Goodbred AJ. Vitamin B12 deficiency: Recognition and management. Am Fam Physician. 2017 Sep 15;96(6):384-389.
- NIH. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Intrinsic factor deficiency. Updated January 19, 2016.
- Hall SN, Appelman HD. Autoimmune gastritis. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2019 Nov;143(11):1327-1331. doi:10.5858/arpa.2019-0345-RA
Esther Kinuthia is a registered nurse with extensive experience in health and wellness. She holds a B.S. in nursing, B.A in psychology and has worked for more than ten years in the health-care field. She enjoys writing articles on a variety of topics for the Internet. Her work has been published in various websites.