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Concept: Megaloblastic anemia


Vitamin B12 is an essential micronutrient required for optimal hemopoetic, neuro-cognitive and cardiovascular function. Biochemical and clinical vitamin B12 deficiency has been demonstrated to be highly prevalent among patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. It presents with diverse clinical manifestations ranging from impaired memory, dementia, delirium, peripheral neuropathy, sub acute combined degeneration of the spinal cord, megaloblastic anemia and pancytopenia. This review article offers a current perspective on the physiological roles of vitamin B12, proposed pathophysiological mechanisms of vitamin B12 deficiency, screening for vitamin B12 deficiency and vitamin B12 supplementation among patients with diabetes mellitus.

Concepts: Nutrition, Diabetes mellitus, Anemia, Folic acid, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, Pernicious anemia, Vitamin B12 deficiency


Vitamin B12 is one of the essential vitamins affecting various systems of the body. Reports of psychiatric disorders due to its deficiency mostly focus on middle aged and elderly patients. Here we report a case of vitamin B 12 deficiency in a 16-year old, male adolescent who presented with mixed mood disorder symptoms with psychotic features. Chief complaints were “irritability, regressive behavior, apathy, crying and truancy” which lasted for a year. Premorbid personality was unremarkable with no substance use/exposure or infections. No stressors were present. The patient was not vegetarian. Past medical history and family history was normal. Neurological examination revealed glossitis, ataxia, rigidity in both shoulders, cog-wheel rigidity in the left elbow, bilateral problems of coordination in cerebellar examination, reduced swinging of the arms and masked face. Romberg’s sign was present. Laboratory evaluations were normal. Endoscopy and biopsy revealed atrophy of the gastric mucosa with Helicobacter Pylori colonization. Schilling test was suggestive of malabsorbtion. He was diagnosed with Mood disorder with Mixed, Psychotic Features due to Vitamin B12 Deficiency and risperidone 0.5 mg/day and intramuscular vitamin B12 500 mcg/day were started along with referral for treatment of Helicobacter pylori. A visit on the second week revealed no psychotic features. Romberg’s sign was negative and cerebellar tests were normal. Extrapyramidal symptoms were reduced while Vitamin B12 levels were elevated. Risperidone was stopped and parenteral Vitamin B12 treatment was continued with monthly injections for 3 months. Follow-up endoscopy and biopsy at the first month demonstrated eradication of H. pylori. He was followed monthly for another 6 months and psychiatric symptoms did not recur at the time of last evaluation. Despite limitations, this case may underline the observation that mood disorders with psychotic features especially with accompanying extrapyramidal symptoms lacking a clear etiology may be rare manifestation of vitamin B12 and/or folate deficiency in children and adolescents and be potentially amenable to treatment.

Concepts: Vitamin, Ataxia, Helicobacter pylori, Folic acid, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, B vitamins, Vitamin B12 deficiency


Vitamin B12 deficiency is prevalent in many countries of origin of refugees. Using a threshold of 5% above which a prevalence of low Vitamin B12 is indicative of a population health problem, we hypothesised that Vitamin B12 deficiency exceeds this threshold among newly-arrived refugees resettling in Australia, and is higher among women due to their increased risk of food insecurity. This paper reports Vitamin B12 levels in a large cohort of newly arrived refugees in five Australian states and territories.

Concepts: Demography, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Subacute combined degeneration of spinal cord



Vitamin B12 (cyancobalamin, Cbl) has two active co-enzyme forms, methylcobalamin (MeCbl) and adenosylcobalamin (AdCbl). There has been a paradigm shift in the treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency such that MeCbl is being extensively used and promoted. This is despite the fact that both MeCbl and AdCbl are essential and have distinct metabolic fates and functions. MeCbl is primarily involved along with folate in hematopiesis and development of the brain during childhood. Whereas deficiency of AdCbl disturbs the carbohydrate, fat and amino-acid metabolism, and hence interferes with the formation of myelin. Thereby, it is important to treat vitamin B12 deficiency with a combination of MeCbl and AdCbl or hydroxocobalamin or Cbl. Regarding the route, it has been proved that the oral route is comparable to the intramuscular route for rectifying vitamin B12 deficiency.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication, 13 August 2014; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2014.165.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Vitamin, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, B vitamins, Cyanocobalamin, Hydroxocobalamin


Abstract 1.  Folate, an essential micronutrient, is a critical cofactor in one-carbon metabolism. Mammals cannot synthesize folate and depend on supplementation to maintain normal levels. Low folate status may be caused by low dietary intake, poor absorption of ingested folate and alteration of folate metabolism due to genetic defects or drug interactions. 2.  Folate deficiency has been linked with an increased risk of neural tube defects, cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognitive dysfunction. Most countries have established recommended intakes of folate through folic acid supplements or fortified foods. External supplementation of folate may occur as folic acid, folinic acid or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). 3.  Naturally occurring 5-MTHF has important advantages over synthetic folic acid - it is well absorbed even when gastrointestinal pH is altered and its bioavailability is not affected by metabolic defects. Using 5-MTHF instead of folic acid reduces the potential for masking haematological symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, reduces interactions with drugs that inhibit dihydrofolate reductase and overcomes metabolic defects caused by methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase polymorphism. Use of 5-MTHF also prevents the potential negative effects of unconverted folic acid in the peripheral circulation. 4.  We review the evidence for the use of 5-MTHF in preventing folate deficiency.

Concepts: Nutrition, Vitamin, Anemia, Folic acid, Folate deficiency, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, Cofactor


Vitamin B(12) (B(12); also known as cobalamin) is a cofactor in many metabolic processes; deficiency of this vitamin is associated with megaloblastic anaemia and various neurological disorders. In contrast to many prokaryotes, humans and other mammals are unable to synthesize B(12). Instead, a sophisticated pathway for specific uptake and transport of this molecule has evolved. Failure in the gastrointestinal part of this pathway is the most common cause of nondietary-induced B(12) deficiency disease. However, although less frequent, defects in cellular processing and further downstream steps in the transport pathway are also known culprits of functional B(12) deficiency. Biochemical and genetic approaches have identified novel proteins in the B(12) transport pathway–now known to involve more than 15 gene products–delineating a coherent pathway for B(12) trafficking from food to the body’s cells. Some of these gene products are specifically dedicated to B(12) transport, whereas others embrace additional roles, which explains the heterogeneity in the clinical picture of the many genetic disorders causing B(12) deficiency. This Review describes basic and clinical features of this multistep pathway with emphasis on gastrointestinal transport of B(12) and its importance in clinical medicine.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Metabolism, Vitamin, Anemia, Folic acid, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12


BACKGROUND: Vitamin B12 deficiency is a well recognized cause of posterolateral myelopathy. In Indian subcontinent, it may coexist with nutritional copper deficiency producing partial response of patients to B12 supplementation. Hence the study was planned to look for association of hypocupremia and B12 deficiency. METHODS: Twenty-three patients with posterolateral myelopathy (Romberg sign positive) were enrolled and investigated for levels of vitamin B12, copper and zinc and followed up for six months. RESULT: In three patients, copper deficiency alone was found to be the cause. In another three, both copper and vitamin B12 were deficient. In all these six patients, ceruloplasmin and 24h urinary copper were found to be low suggesting dietary copper deficiency. Hyperzincemia was found in four of these patients. Magnetic resonance imaging of spine was normal in lone Cu deficient patients but showed T2 hyperintensity of posterior column in lone B12 or combined B12 and copper deficiency. CONCLUSION: In cases of B12 deficiency myelopathy not responding to supplementation, copper deficiency must be sought at the earliest to avoid and treat persistent neurological disability.

Concepts: Nutrition, Magnetic resonance imaging, Zinc, Copper, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Subacute combined degeneration of spinal cord


The myelopathy caused by vitamin B12 deficiency is known as subacute combined degeneration. It is rare, but a well known cause of demyelination of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord. The magnetic resonance imaging is characterized by an increased signal on T2-weighted images involving the posterior columns of cervical and thoracic cord. There have been few cases in literature with extensive lesions (more than seven levels) of the thoracic spinal cord. The clinical and radiological improvements are possible if the replacement of vitamin B12 is initiated precocious. We present two rare cases of extensive thoracic myelopathy due to vitamin B12 deficiency. The first is a young woman with complete clinical recovery and important radiologic improvement after early treatment. In addition, the second case is an older man with partial response to the treatment. Those cases illustrate the importance of considering vitamin B12 deficiency in any patient, who presents with myelopathy.

Concepts: Magnetic resonance imaging, Radiology, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Subacute combined degeneration of spinal cord


Metformin is the most widely used oral hypoglycaemic drug, but it may lower B12 status, which could have important clinical implications. We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of the relationship between metformin use and vitamin B12 deficiency in persons with type 2 diabetes.

Concepts: Diabetes mellitus type 2, Anti-diabetic drug, Sulfonylurea, Folic acid, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Subacute combined degeneration of spinal cord