ME Association blog post, 16 February 2018: Pernicious Anaemia: symptoms, diagnosis, Vitamin B12, ME/CFS and the NICE guideline review
What is pernicious anaemia?
Pernicious anaemia (PA) is the most common cause of B12 deficiency in the UK.
It is an autoimmune condition that causes the body’s immune system to attack cells in the stomach, limiting their ability to absorb B12. PA is generally treated with regular B12 injections.
Vitamin B12 and M.E.
Dr Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, to the ME Association has talked previously with Martyn, and recognises the importance of excluding PA before a diagnosis of M.E. is made, and any treatment of M.E. with vitamin B12 is considered.
The ME Association has produced a leaflet that covers all aspects of vitamin B12 – causes of B12 deficiency, symptoms, blood tests, treatment, research into the possible link to M.E.
This leaflet can be downloaded or ordered from our online shop.
Summary of the key points:
- Although some people with M.E. report that vitamin B12 injections have been helpful, there is no robust scientific evidence to currently demonstrate that vitamin B12 deficiency occurs in M.E.
- There are no results from clinical trials to indicate that vitamin B12 injections are a safe and effective form of treatment in M.E.
- If people are going to take vitamin B12 it is very important to make sure that Pernicious Anaemia (PA) has first been excluded. PA is an autoimmune condition that results in decreased absorption of B12 from the gut – hence the need for injections.
- Excluding PA is important because it can cause very serious neurological complications (i.e. sub-acute combined degeneration of the spinal cord (https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000723.htm) if not properly treated.
NB Be aware that in Wales Health Boards work by different upper and lower levels of B12.