Inadequate nutrition, drug interactions, alcoholism and malabsorption syndromes, such as celiac disease, can cause vitamin deficiencies. Gastritis, an inflammation of the lining of your stomach, can also cause a vitamin deficiency, specifically of vitamin B-12. Consult your doctor if you have gastritis symptoms.
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Inflammation and Gastritis
Inflammation is a process that your immune system uses to ward off infection and heal injury. It occurs when hormones signal the release of fluids and white blood cells from your blood vessels by increasing the porosity of blood vessel walls. Blood serum and white blood cells exit your blood vessels and flood the affected area, causing swelling that cushions the injured tissue. The white blood cells attack any pathogens and allow healing to begin. In cases of gastritis, the inflammation is prolonged or severe enough to cause problems of its own. It can lead to stomach ulcers, and cause damage to the stomach lining that inhibits the production of stomach acids necessary to break down foods and absorb vitamins.
Atrophic gastritis is a condition of the elderly, and it is thought to be the main cause of vitamin B-12 malabsorption in older adults. Atrophic gastritis is a chronic form of gastritis that causes the glands that produce stomach acid to atrophy. The lack of digestive acid also changes the environment of the stomach, making it possible for harmful bacteria to colonize the area, further inhibiting B-12 absorption.
Vitamin B-12 is the largest vitamin, in terms of molecular size, and also the most complex. B-12 is not found in plants. Animal-based foods are the only natural sources of B-12, though many non-animal-based foods are now fortified with this essential vitamin. B-12 in natural food sources is bound to protein in a form that your intestines cannot absorb. The acids that your stomach produces cleave vitamin B-12 from the proteins that bind it, allowing it to be absorbed by your intestines. In cases of gastritis, the lack of stomach acids prevents this cleavage and results in inadequate B-12 absorption.
The symptoms of gastritis include stomach pain, indigestion, heartburn, hiccups, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite and dark fecal matter. The symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency include anemia, fatigue, weakness and tingling in the hands and feet. If not corrected in time, nerve damage due to vitamin B-12 deficiency can become permanent. Consult your doctor if you think you may have a vitamin deficiency.