Vitamin B12 Deficiency Linked To IBS?
Vitamin B12 deficiency and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) are two medical conditions that can have similar symptoms.
Because of this, the two conditions can sometimes be prematurely diagnosed as the other. Tests can determine which condition you are suffering from, but they do take time. Despite the range of similarities in their symptoms, more medical research is needed to confidently establish a link between a B12 deficiency and IBS. If you believe you are suffering from either of these conditions, you should consult your doctor.
Symptoms of both B12 deficiency and IBS include frequent and uncontrollable diarrhea.
A severe lack of B12 can result in pernicious anemia, which causes dizziness, fever, irritability, difficulty breathing, fatigue, weight loss, paleness and tingling in the hands and feet, which may indicate nerve damage.
Symptoms of IBS include frequent diarrhea, constipation and bloating or abdominal pain and gas.
B12 is essential in the digestive system for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. The people most at risk for developing a B12 deficiency include vegans, people with a compromised immune system, people suffering from digestive system disorders and those who are HIV positive.
IBS, unlike a vitamin B12 deficiency, is generally not associated with malabsorption, so the two are not generally linked. the exact causes of IBS are unknown, and further research needs to be done, however health reports state that IBS may be caused by a muscle disorder in the intestine or infections, and can be worsened by certain foods and stress.
Currently, there are no available tests that can give a definite diagnosis of IBS, although a colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy or CT scan will help to reveal if there are underlying intestinal problems.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be ruled out by a simple blood test. Vitamin B12 is needed for proper blood call production so a blood test will reveal if there are abnormal red blood cells, a lowered count of white blood cells or platelets, or a lower than average level of hemoglobin.
A vitamin B-12 deficiency can be easily remedied in most cases by taking a supplement. Currently, dietary supplements are not required to be tested by the FDA for effectiveness or purity, so speak to your doctor for advice before taking supplements. B12 supplements may interfere with drugs like anticonvulsants, Glucophage, H2 blockers, and medications used to lower cholesterol.
Unfortunately, there is no ‘cure’ for IBS, although certain dietary changes, fiber supplements, medications to relax the intestines, prevent diarrhea and stop digestive spasms may help. There is currently no research to indicate that a B12 supplement can decrease the severity of IBS.
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