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Can a Vitamin B-12 Deficiency Cause Vertigo?

by
author image Charis Grey
For 15 years, Charis Grey's award-winning work has appeared in film, television, newspapers, magazines and on the Internet. She has worked as a story editor on the CBS drama "Flashpoint" and her work appears bimonthly in "The Driver Magazine." She has a Bachelor of Science in biology and a doctorate in chiropractic medicine from Palmer College.
Can a Vitamin B-12 Deficiency Cause Vertigo?
DNA Molecule. Photo Credit ktsimage/iStock/Getty Images

Vitamin B-12 is a vital factor in your body’s ability to synthesize DNA, produce red blood cells and maintain a healthy nervous system. If you eat meat, eggs, dairy products, fish or poultry on a regular basis, you’re probably consuming enough vitamin B-12. An exception to this would be if you have any underlying condition that inhibits your ability to extract nutrients from the foods you eat.

B12 Absorption

Hydrochloric acid, which is produced by your stomach, helps break down foods so that you can assimilate the nutrients they contain. Medical conditions that interfere with the production of hydrochloric acid can prevent your digestive system from properly functioning. Hydrochloric acid is necessary for separating B-12 from protein and allowing it to be digested. In addition, a specific enzyme called intrinsic factor is crucial in the absorption of dietary B-12 through the intestinal walls, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.

B-12 Deficiency

Strict vegans are at risk of B-12 deficiency, as this nutrient is only found in sufficient quantities in animal-based food products. Gastric malabsorption is commonly a factor in B-12 deficiency as well. Pernicious anemia is a condition linked to B-12 deficiency; individuals with this disorder cannot supply sufficient amounts of intrinsic factor. Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and chronic alcoholism are other conditions often associated with B-12 deficiency.

Vertigo

Vertigo is the uncomfortable sensation that you, or the space around you, is rotating. It is also referred to as dizziness. As the Merck Manual Online Medical Library states, B-12 deficiency can lead to anemia -- a shortage of red blood cells that is often associated with a feeling of light-headedness or vertigo. If you’re experiencing frequent attacks of vertigo, your doctor can run diagnostic tests to determine whether B-12 deficiency is the cause.

Treatment of B12 Deficiency

If you’ve been diagnosed with a B-12 deficiency, the treatment will depend on the cause. A condition such as pernicious anemia will require life-long B-12 supplementation. B-12 supplements are not attached to protein, thus they do not require intrinsic factor -- which those with pernicious anemia lack -- to be metabolized. The Merck Manual states that B-12 injections are typically administered daily or weekly until your B-12 levels become normal. An indefinitely prolonged course of monthly injections follows, unless the underlying condition that caused the deficiency has been corrected.

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