Vitamin Deficiency Anemia

Vitamin Deficiency Anemia

Overview

When it comes to anemia, iron defiency is often the first culprit that comes to mind. However, there are a number of other nutrients that can also contribute to anemia.

Vitamin deficiency anemia is a lack of healthy red blood cells caused when you have lower than normal amounts of certain vitamins. Vitamins linked to vitamin deficiency anemia include folate, vitamin B-12 and vitamin C.

Vitamin deficiency anemia can occur if you don’t eat enough foods containing folate, vitamin B-12 or vitamin C, or it can occur if your body has trouble absorbing or processing these vitamins.

It’s important to have your doctor diagnose and treat your anemia. Vitamin deficiency anemia can usually be corrected with vitamin supplements and changes to your diet.

The following article was originally published by the Mayo Clinic. Follow The Mayo Clinic by clicking the following link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of vitamin deficiency anemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Weight loss
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Personality changes
  • Unsteady movements
  • Mental confusion or forgetfulness

Vitamin deficiency usually develops slowly over several months to years. Vitamin deficiency signs and symptoms may be subtle at first, but they increase as the deficiency worsens.

Causes

Vitamin deficiency anemia develops when your body has a shortage of the vitamins needed to produce enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs throughout your body.

If your diet is lacking in certain vitamins, vitamin deficiency anemia can develop. Or vitamin deficiency anemia may develop because your body can’t properly absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat.

Causes of vitamin deficiency anemias include:

Folate deficiency anemia

Folate, also known as vitamin B-9, is a nutrient found mainly in fruits and leafy green vegetables. A diet consistently lacking in these foods can lead to a deficiency.

Deficiency can also result if your body is unable to absorb folate from food. Most nutrients from food are absorbed in your small intestine. You might have difficulty absorbing folate or folic acid, the synthetic form of folate that’s added to foods and supplements, if:

  • You have a disease of the small intestine, such as celiac disease
  • You’ve had a large part of the small intestine surgically removed or bypassed
  • You drink excessive amounts of alcohol
  • You take certain prescription drugs, such as some anti-seizure medications

Pregnant women and women who are breast-feeding have an increased demand for folate, as do people undergoing dialysis for kidney disease. Failure to meet this increased demand can result in a deficiency.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia

Vitamin B-12 deficiency can result from a diet lacking in vitamin B-12, which is found mainly in meat, eggs and milk.

However, the most common cause of vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia is a lack of a substance called intrinsic factor, which can be caused when your immune system mistakenly attacks the stomach cells that produce this substance. This type of anemia is called pernicious anemia.

Intrinsic factor is a protein secreted by the stomach that joins vitamin B-12 in the stomach and moves it through the small intestine to be absorbed by your bloodstream. Without intrinsic factor, vitamin B-12 can’t be absorbed and leaves your body as waste.

People with endocrine-related autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes or thyroid disease, may have an increased risk of developing pernicious anemia.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia can also occur if your small intestine can’t absorb vitamin B-12 for reasons other than a lack of intrinsic factor. This may happen if:

  • You’ve had surgery to your stomach or small intestine, such as gastric bypass surgery
  • You have abnormal bacterial growth in your small intestine
  • You have an intestinal disease, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, that interferes with absorption of the vitamin
  • You’ve ingested a tapeworm from eating contaminated fish. The tapeworm saps nutrients from your body.

Vitamin C deficiency anemia

Vitamin C deficiency can develop if you don’t get enough vitamin C from the foods you eat. Vitamin C deficiency is also possible if something impairs your ability to absorb vitamin C from food. For instance, smoking impairs your body’s ability to absorb vitamin C.

Certain chronic illnesses, such as cancer or chronic kidney disease, also increase your risk of vitamin C deficiency anemia by affecting the absorption of vitamin C.

Risk factors

A number of factors can affect your body’s vitamin stores. In general, your risk of vitamin deficiency is increased if:

  • Your diet contains little to no natural vitamin food sources, such as meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Vegetarians who don’t eat dairy products and vegans, who don’t eat any foods from animals, may fall into this category.Consistently overcooking your food also can cause vitamin deficiency.
  • You’re pregnant, and you aren’t taking a multivitamin. Folic acid supplements are especially important during pregnancy.
  • You have intestinal problems or other medical conditions that interfere with absorption of vitamins. Abnormal bacterial growth in your stomach or surgery to your intestines or stomach can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B-12.
  • You abuse alcohol. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of folate and vitamin C, as well as other vitamins.
  • You take certain prescription medications that can block absorption of vitamins. Anti-seizure drugs can block the absorption of folate. Antacids and some drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes may interfere with B-12 absorption.

Complications

Being deficient in vitamins increases your risk of many health problems, including:

Pregnancy complications

Pregnant women with folate deficiency may be more likely to experience complications, such as premature birth. A developing fetus that doesn’t get enough folate from its mother can develop birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, ask your doctor whether you should consider taking folic acid supplements so that your body’s stores of folate will be enough to support your baby.

Nervous system disorders

While vitamin B-12 is important for the production of red blood cells, it’s also important for a healthy nervous system.

Untreated, vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to neurological problems, such as persistent tingling in your hands and feet or problems with balance. It can lead to mental confusion and forgetfulness because vitamin B-12 is necessary for healthy brain function.

Without treatment for vitamin B-12 deficiency, neurological complications can become permanent. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause these and other health problems before it leads to anemia.

Scurvy

Vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy. Signs and symptoms of this rare disease include bleeding under the skin and around the gums.

Prevention

Choose a healthy diet

You can prevent some forms of vitamin deficiency anemias by choosing a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods.

Foods rich in folate include:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Enriched grain products, such as bread, cereal, pasta and rice
  • Fruits and fruit juices

Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include:

  • Eggs
  • Fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals
  • Milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Meat and shellfish

Foods rich in vitamin C include:

  • Broccoli
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Strawberries
  • Green peppers
  • Tomatoes

Most adults need these daily dietary amounts of the following vitamins:

Pregnant and breast-feeding women may require more of each vitamin.

Consider a supplement

If you’re concerned about getting enough vitamins from the food you eat, ask your doctor whether a multivitamin may be right for you. Most people get enough vitamins from the foods they eat. But if your diet is restricted, you may wish to take a multivitamin.

Don’t smoke

Smoking interferes with the absorption of nutrients, such as vitamin C, so it can raise your risk of a vitamin deficiency.

If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you’ve tried to quit on your own and haven’t been successful, talk with your doctor about strategies to help you quit.

Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all

Alcohol can contribute to vitamin deficiency anemia. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, moderate drinking is generally considered to be:

  • Two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger
  • One drink a day for men older than age 65
  • One drink a day for women of any age

A drink is 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer, 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof distilled spirits.

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What is Fulvic Acid and what are its Benefits?

What is Fulvic Acid and what are its Benefits?

Social media, Ayurvedic websites, or health stores may have brought your attention to fulvic acid, a health product that some people take as a supplement. Fulvic acid supplements and shilajit, a natural substance that’s rich in fulvic acid, are popular for a variety of reasons, including potential immune and brain health benefits.

This article explains everything you need to know about fulvic acid, including what it is, its health effects, and its safety. The article was written for the website Healthline by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD on April 24, 2020 and medically reviewed by Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D. Follow Healthline by clicking on the following link: https://www.healthline.com/

gloved hands in soil with plants

What is fulvic acid?

Fulvic acid is considered a humic substance, meaning it’s a naturally occurring compound found in soils, compost, marine sediments, and sewage (1). Fulvic acid is a product of decomposition and formed through geochemical and biological reactions, such as the breakdown of food in a compost heap. It can be extracted from compost, soil, and other substances to be processed into a supplement (1).

How does it differ from shilajit?

Shilajit, a substance secreted by rocks in certain mountain ranges around the world, including the Himalayas, is particularly high in fulvic acid. Its common names include mineral pitch, mumie, mumijo, and vegetable asphalt (2) Shilajit is blackish brown and comprises 15–20% fulvic acid. It also contains small amounts of minerals and metabolites derived from fungi (34).

Shilajit has been used therapeutically for centuries in traditional healing practices, including Ayurvedic medicine, to treat conditions like diabetes, altitude sickness, asthma, heart ailments, and digestive and nervous disorders (3 5). It has also been used to stimulate the immune system and enhance performance (5.) Fulvic acid is believed to be responsible for many of shilajit’s medicinal properties.

Both fulvic acid and shilajit can be taken as supplements. While fulvic acid is typically produced in liquid or capsule form and combined with other minerals like magnesium and amino acids, shilajit is usually sold as a capsule or fine powder that can be added to beverages.

SUMMARY

Fulvic acid and shilajit, a substance high in fulvic acid, have long been used in traditional medicine. Both are sold in supplement form and said to treat numerous ailments.

Potential benefits of fulvic acid  

Research demonstrates that both fulvic acid and shilajit may boast various health-promoting properties.

May reduce inflammation and boost immunity

Fulvic acid has been well studied for its effects on immune health and inflammation. Research indicates that it may bolster your body’s defense against illnesses.

Test-tube and animal studies show that fulvic acid may improve disease resistance, increase your immune defences, fight inflammation, and enhance antioxidant activity — all of which may bolster immune health (467).

Fulvic acid may be especially useful for reducing inflammation, which negatively affects immune response and is linked to numerous chronic diseases.For example, test-tube studies demonstrate that it may limit the release of inflammatory substances like tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) (89).

Plus, a study in 20 people with HIV found that taking shilajit at varying doses of up to 9,000 mg per day, combined with traditional antiretroviral medication, led to health improvements, compared with antiretroviral medication alone. Those who received shilajit experienced fewer symptoms of nausea, weight loss, and diarrhea. Furthermore, the treatment enhanced people’s response to the medication and seemed to protect the liver and kidneys from the medicine’s side effects (10).

However, it’s important to note that results are mixed, with some studies tying fulvic acid to inflammatory effects depending on the dose and type. More research is needed before these substances can be recommended as immune boosters (4). It’s also important to understand that one supplement will not prevent or cure disease. Keeping your immune system healthy with a nutritious diet and other lifestyle factors can help your body defend against viruses, bacteria, pathogens, and toxins.

May protect brain function

Some research suggests that fulvic acid may promote brain health (11).

Animal studies note that shilajit can improve outcomes after traumatic brain injury by reducing swelling and pressure in the brain (12). Additionally, test-tube studies show that fulvic acid strongly interferes with the clumping of certain proteins that accelerate brain ailments like Alzheimer’s disease (13).

What’s more, a preliminary, 24-week study in people with Alzheimer’s determined that supplementing with shilajit and B vitamins led to stabilized brain function, compared with a placebo group (14).

Some animal research also suggests that shilajit may help enhance memory (1516).Overall, more human studies on fulvic acid and brain health are needed.

Other potential benefits

Fulvic acid may offer several other health benefits.

  • May lower cholesterol. Animal studies suggest that fulvic acid may decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol. According to a human study in 30 people, it may also raise HDL (good) cholesterol (1718).
  • May improve muscle strength. In a 12-week study in 60 adults with obesity, 500 mg of shilajit daily helped improve muscle strength. Plus, an 8-week study in 63 active men showed similar results with the same amount of this compound (1920).
  • May relieve altitude sickness. Shilajit has been used for centuries to treat altitude sickness. Fulvic acid may help treat this condition by enhancing immune response, stimulating energy production, and improving oxygen levels (5).
  • May boost cellular function. Animal research demonstrates that shilajit may preserve the function of mitochondria, the energy-producing organelle of cells (21).
  • May have anticancer properties. Some test-tube studies indicate that shilajit may induce cancer cell death and prevent the spread of certain cancer cells. However, more research is needed (22).
  • May boost testosterone. A 3-month study in 96 men found that taking 500 mg of shilajit per day significantly increased testosterone levels, compared with a placebo group (23).
  • May enhance gut health. Ayurvedic medicine has used shilajit for centuries to enhance gut health. Some research suggests that it may positively affect gut bacteria, enhance nutrient absorption, and improve digestive disorders (4).

Although fulvic acid and shilajit are associated with many potential health benefits, human studies are fairly limited.

SUMMARY

Both fulvic acid and shilajit may offer numerous benefits, including reduced inflammation, stronger immunity, and improved brain function. Still, more human research is needed.

Safety, side effects, and dosage

Moderate doses of fulvic acid and shilajit appear safe, though research is ongoing.

A study in 30 men concluded that a daily dose of 0.5 ounces (15 mL) can be used safely without the risk of side effects. Higher doses may induce mild side effects, such as diarrhea, headaches, and sore throat (1).

Additionally, a 3-month study in people with HIV found that prolonged use of shilajit at a dose of 6,000 mg per day was safe and did not cause any significant side effects (10). Other studies note that taking 500 mg of shilajit per day for up to 3 months doesn’t cause significant side effects in healthy adults (1923).

Although fulvic acid and Shilajit are considered relatively safe, insufficient research has been carried out to determine dosage recommendations. You’re generally advised not to exceed the dosage listed on supplement packaging. Furthermore, it’s important to pay special attention to the quality and form of fulvic acid and shilajit supplements. Studies show that raw, unpurified shilajit may contain arsenic, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and other harmful compounds (11).

Since some shilajit products may be contaminated with these toxins, it’s important to purchase supplements from trusted brands that are tested by third-party organizations, such as NSF International or United States Pharmacopeia (USP) (11).

Children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid shilajit and fulvic acid due to a lack of safety information.

Finally, these substances may react with certain medications, so it’s important to consult your healthcare provider before adding either to your routine.

SUMMARY

Shilajit and fulvic acid are considered relatively safe. However, some supplements may be contaminated with harmful substances, and more research is necessary to determine dosage guidelines.

The bottom line

Fulvic acid and shilajit, which is rich in this acid, are natural health products taken to treat numerous conditions.

Although research reveals that they may boost immune and brain health, as well as combat inflammation, more human studies are needed to fully determine their effectiveness, dosage, and long-term safety.

If you’re interested in trying fulvic acid or shilajit, first consult your healthcare provider. Furthermore, always purchase supplements from reputable sources to avoid exposure to toxins.

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