08 July, 2011
Gastroparesis as a Cause of Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
Gastroparesis is a condition in which stomach muscles do not function normally, which prevents your stomach from emptying properly. Gastroparesis is caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which controls stomach muscles. Gastroparesis is a common complication of diabetes and stomach surgeries such as gastrectomy. If you have gastroparesis, you are more likely to develop vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Digesting Vitamin B-12
Gastroparesis interferes with the digestion and absorption of foods rich in vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble B vitamin necessary for metabolism, red blood cell production and maintenance of healthy nerves. Vitamin B-12 is usually absorbed in the stomach with the help of a stomach protein. Eating small portions of foods rich in vitamin B-12 instead of large meals can make it easier for your stomach to digest and absorb the vitamin.
Symptoms of Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
If you have gastroparesis, be aware of the symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency so you can seek early diagnosis and treatment. B-12 deficiency can lead to symptoms of fatigue, sore tongue, weakness, loss of appetite, constipation, numbness and tingling of your hands and feet, difficulties maintaining balance, confusion, depression and dementia, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
Vitamin B-12 Supplements
Vitamin B-12 deficiency caused by gastroparesis is treated with B-12 shots since this method bypasses potential barriers to absorption. B-12 shots are usually administered at the doctor's office on a weekly or monthly basis. It is important that you attend all your scheduled appointments for B-12 administration because untreated B-12 deficiency can cause permanent neurological damage.
Gastroparesis leads to symptoms including abdominal bloating and distension, abdominal fullness after just eating a few bites, nausea, vomiting, heartburn,changes in blood sugar levels and unintentional weight loss, according to MayoClinic.com. Complications of gastroparesis include gastroesophageal reflux disease, malnutrition, electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.
- Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images