A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that helicobacter, the germ that causes stomach ulcers, can also cause vitamin B12 deficiency.

Your stomach produces a chemical called intrinsic factor that helps you absorb vitamin B12 from the food that you eat. When your stomach is damaged by anything, it may not be able to produce intrinsic factor and you can develop a deficiency of B12 that can cause forgetfulness, depression, tingling and lack of feeling in your hands and feet, anemia and even death. A bacteria called Helicobacter can damage your stomach lining to cause nausea, belching, burning in your chest and abdomen, and even ulcers. It also can block intrinsic factor and cause pernicious anemia. So all people who have stomach symptoms caused by Helicobacter should get a blood tet for vitamin B12. Those with low levels should take B12 pills.

Kaptan K, Beyan C, Ugur U, et al. Helicobacter pylori——is it a novel causative agent in vitamin B12 deficiency? Arch Intern Med 2000;160:1349-53.

Checked 8/9/05

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