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What causes vitamin B12 deficiency?

There are several ways people can develop a vitamin B12 deficiency. Many people simply don't eat enough foods rich in vitamin B12, including meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs and dairy products. Some people may consume a diet rich in vitamin B12 but aren't able to benefit from it because genetics, disease or surgery caused them to have stomach linings with too little intrinsic factor, a substance that's needed to absorb vitamin B12 from food.

People over age 50 are less able than younger people to absorb B12 from food, which may lead to deficiency. Other factors that can lead to malabsorption and vitamin B12 deficiency include alcoholism, overuse of heartburn medications and certain conditions such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease. Talk to your doctor if you think you might be deficient in vitamin B12.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.