B12 deficiency symptoms and low stomach acid?

I've been supplementing with B12 spray and Jarrow 5000 mcg sub lingual tablets for around 10 months now (along with Thorne B complex). This has cleared up the neurological symptoms I was having (poor coordination, memory problems) but I was still getting breathless when walking up hills or climbing stairs. I have suspected for a while that I might have low stomach acid and / or a gluten / wheat intolerance (which I believe will also have an impact on stomach acid and absorption). For the past four weeks I have been taking Betane HCL tablets on a daily basis with my evening meal. I have also gone gluten free.

This seems to have eased my breathlessness considerably, and as an "experiment", I decided to taper down my B12 intake to see if the symptoms came back. For nearly 10 days now I have taken *no* B12 supplements and had no return of my neuro symptoms or breathlessness.

Would the fact that I now have more stomach acid (and gone G/F), mean that I'm absorbing enough B12 in the normal way (I.e. from my food), and not needing the supplements? All very strange .....

12 Replies

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  • Hi seamail57 it is known that people with Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gluten enteropathy (celiac disease), or any other disease that cause malabsorption of nutrients are at risk of developing a Vitamin B12 deficiency so well done for finding a solution to your symptoms by supplementation and a change of diet.

    Please be aware that B12 in your food needs a healthy level of Folate so as my Mum used to shout at me "eat your greens!"

    I wish you well for the future

  • I would say it's a possibility , because one needs stomach acid as well as intrinsic factor to absorb B12 . Of course if you are absorbing B12, through supplementing with Betaine HCL, you can store it in your liver for quite some time . I don't know enough about G/F to know if that plays a part.

  • Unlikely.

    If you have low stomach acid the most likely reason is that your Gastric Parietal Cells are non-existent or aren't working properly. That would suggest that you would also be low in IF. Supplementing with acid won't change that.

    Unless you have coeliacs disease it's unlikely that going gluten-free will do anything except for making your diet less interesting. The guy that did the research indicating that it was possible to have non-coeliac gluten sensitivity did some further work that made him change his mind.

  • It is actually entirely possible when the low stomach acid is caused by hypothyroidism. It is very common with that, as are multiple deficiencies caused by poor absorption. It is also known that many people with auto-immune hypothyroid actually have non-coeliac gluten sensitivity which causes increased intestinal permeability aka leaky gut and irritates the immune system. If it doesn't exist then how come many find great improvement when they drop gluten? xx

  • estimates of the number of people who have coeliacs varies but is probably 1-2% of the population. The number of people who have a diagnosis of coeliacs is much lower than this so there are obviously a lot of people out there who have coeliacs that haven't been diagnosed. If someone who is an undiagnosed coeliac goes gluten free they will of course see improvements, but if they have gone gluten free then it isn't going to be possible to test for ceoliacs unless they stop being gluten free.

    As far as I am aware studies that have been done haven't shown a significant enough improvement rate for the improvement not to be explainable by undiagnosed coeliacs.

  • Actually I didn't mention it before, but I've tested negative for H.Pylori and coeliac last year. GP thought I might have non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), so I cut it out and since then I have noticed a number of changes, the most striking of which was a drop in blood pressure from around 137/86 to 122 / 78 (which is not bad for a 59 year old!).

  • Interesting. GP suggested i might have NCGS and to try excluding gluten from my diet for a couple of months to see if it helped ...

  • Trying 2 things at once doesn't help identify which is the problem. You need to try each one at a time to see what happens.

    I believe coeliacs can have other consequences so best to know for sure with that rather than just go gluten free.

  • Your journey sounds very similar to mine seamail and I notice from previous posts that you're also hypothyroid.

    I've been gluten free for nearly two years now. With daily spoonfuls of sauerkraut, the severe digestive symptoms I'd had for years miraculously cleared and, hopefully, the little brushes (microvilli) lining my intestines recovered enough to better absorb B12, but I continued supplementing B12 anyway. However, I've now reached an age where I'm probably developing a problem with low stomach acid, (noticing subtle neurological symptoms) so have upped the dose of Jarrows 5000, to help prevent neurological damage and will prepare to self inject if these symptoms worsen.

    I found two books by Dr Datis Kharrizian (leading neurological researcher and lecturerer to post graduates), "Why do I still have Thyroid Symptoms, when my Lab Tests are normal?" and, "Why isn't my Brain Working?", really helpful in explaining the gluten and gut/brain connections in Autoimmune diseases.

    I hope you continue to feel improvement seamail.

  • Thank you for your reply, I will give them a read if I can find them!

  • 👍

    Meanwhile, Dr Marc Ryan's (Facebook page) - is interesting - extract:

    "Hashimoto's Health Tip: The Little Paint Brushes in Your Tummy"

    "Anyone who has lived with Hashimoto's knows that this is so much more than a thyroid problem. The biggest axis of trouble is often found in the thyroid-brain-gut connection. And one common problem that causes this is leaky gut or intestinal permeability.

    Many researchers believe that this is ground zero for autoimmune disease.

    It is the place that autoimmune disease is born and the place that makes it get worse and worse. And when things get worse in the gut, problems in the thyroid and brain often follow. In this post, I wanted to shed light on some little known but very helpful enzymes called brush border enzymes.

    The small intestines are the place where leaky gut often happens. And the walls of the small intestines are lined with tiny little hair like protrusions called microvilli. On a regular microscope they kind of look like a tiny, fuzzy paint brush. This fuzzy appearance is why they came up with the term "brush border" to describe them.

    This is the place where absorption happens.

    And many people with Hashimoto's suffer from deficiencies of important vitamins and nutrients (like vitamin D, vitamin B12 and B6, zinc, selenium, magnesium, iron, etc.)

    One of the reasons for this is the breakdown of these brush borders.

    Foods high in lectins or other inflammatory substances (like gluten, and other grains, beans and nightshades) can actually cause these brush borders to get crushed and destroyed.

    The microvilli (little hairs) that make up the brush border have enzymes for this final part of digestion anchored into their membrane as membrane proteins. These enzymes are found near to the transporters that will then allow absorption of digested nutrients."

  • That's really interesting, thanks!

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