Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is a condition where your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells. It happens when you consume too little vitamin B12 through your diet or your body can’t absorb it properly. Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin that our bodies use to create red blood cells and DNA. It also helps with other essential bodily functions. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen around your body. Without enough oxygen, the body can’t work as well.

Impact of Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia on fertility

When the body doesn’t have enough vitamin B12, the blood can clot, or thicken, more quickly. This can cause problems in early pregnancy and raise the risk of miscarriage. Long-term vitamin B12 deficiency can disrupt ovulation and change the mucus membrane of your ovaries and fallopian tubes, making fertilization and implantation of the egg more difficult.

Potential causes of Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia

Several factors can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency, namely:

  • Inadequate consumption of vitamin B12 through your diet (vegetarian and vegan diets are at higher risk of being vitamin B12 deficient)
  • Lack of intrinsic factor (a stomach protein which helps with vitamin B12 absorption)
  • Gastritis or other digestive system disorders (e.g. Crohn’s disease and celiac disease)
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Worm infestation (pinworm, tapeworm, hookworm, etc.)
  • Some medications (metformin, heartburn medication, and birth control pills)
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol
  • Stomach surgery (gastrectomy or weight loss surgery)

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia

Typical symptoms of anemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

If vitamin B12 deficiency anemia continues over time without treatment other symptoms can develop, including:

  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Trouble walking
  • Memory problems or difficulty thinking
  • Depression and irritability
  • Vision issues
  • Diarrhea 
  • Weight loss
  • Painful tongue

Diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency anemia

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is diagnosed through blood tests for your levels of hemoglobin and vitamin B12.

Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency anemia to improve fertility

It’s very important to increase your levels of vitamin B12 before pregnancy. You may be prescribed vitamin B12 medication, which can be taken orally, via a nose spray, or through injections. Blood transfusions may be used in combination with vitamin B12 treatment for more severe vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.

In addition to treatment, you can raise your vitamin B12 levels by adding these foods to your diet:

  • Lean red meat and chicken
  • Fish (catfish and salmon) and shellfish (clams and oysters)
  • Dairy products (milk, yogurt, and cheese)
  • Eggs
  • Vegan milk products fortified with vitamin B12
  • Breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin B12 

By raising your vitamin B12 levels, you’ll improve your overall health and the health of your blood cells, which will in turn help you have a successful pregnancy.

This article has been verified by a medical professional

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