Vitamin deficiency anemia is a deficiency in healthy red blood cells caused when you have less than normal amounts of certain vitamins. Vitamins associated with vitamin deficiency anemia include folic acid, vitamin B-12, and vitamin C.
Vitamin deficiency anemia can occur when you don’t eat enough foods that contain folic acid, vitamin B-12, or vitamin C, or when your body has problems absorbing or processing these vitamins.
The signs and symptoms of vitamin deficiency anemia are:
- shortness of breath
- Pale or yellowish skin
- Irregular heartbeat
- Weight loss
Vitamin deficiency anemia occurs when your body lacks the vitamins it needs to make enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs around your body.
If your diet is lacking certain vitamins, vitamin deficiency anemia can develop. Vitamin deficiency anemia can develop because your body cannot properly absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat.
There are a number of factors that can affect your body’s vitamin stores. In general, your risk of vitamin deficiency is increased if:
Your diet contains little or no natural sources of vitamins such as meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Vegetarians who do not eat dairy products and vegans who do not eat foods of animal origin can fall into this category.
Constant boiling over can also lead to vitamin deficiencies.
You are pregnant and not taking a multivitamin. Folic acid supplements are especially important during pregnancy.
You have intestinal problems or other medical conditions that affect the absorption of vitamins. Abnormal bacterial growth in your stomach or surgery in your intestines or stomach can affect the absorption of vitamin B-12.
A vitamin deficiency increases the risk of many health problems, including:
Pregnant women who are folate deficient may be more likely to experience complications such as premature delivery. A developing fetus that does not get enough folic acid from its mother can develop birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
If you are planning on becoming pregnant, ask your doctor whether you should take folic acid supplements so that your body has enough folic acid stores to support your baby.