Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Risk factors for vitamin deficiency anemia vary by type of vitamin deficiency.
Folate deficiency anemia
Your risk of folate deficiency anemia may be increased if:
- You're pregnant, and you aren't taking a multivitamin containing folic acid.
- You have intestinal problems that interfere with absorption of folate.
- You abuse alcohol, because alcohol interferes with the absorption of folate.
- You take certain prescription medications, such as some anti-seizure drugs, that can block absorption of folate.
- You're undergoing hemodialysis for kidney failure. Ask your doctor whether you need supplemental folic acid to prevent a deficiency.
- You're undergoing cancer treatment. Some drugs used to treat cancer can interfere with the metabolism of folate.
- You don't eat many fruits and vegetables. If your diet is greatly lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, or you consistently overcook your food, you may be at risk of folate deficiency anemia.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia (pernicious anemia)
Your risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia may be increased if:
- You don't eat meat and dairy products, foods that contain a lot of vitamin B-12. Vegetarians who don't eat dairy products and vegans, who don't eat any foods from animals, may fall into this category.
- You have an intestinal disease, abnormal bacterial growth in your stomach, or have had surgery to your intestines or stomach that interferes with the absorption of vitamin B-12.
- You lack intrinsic factor. Most people with a vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia lack intrinsic factor — a protein secreted by the stomach that is necessary for absorption of vitamin B-12. Lack of intrinsic factor may be due to an autoimmune reaction or it may be inherited.
- You take certain medications. Antacids and some drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes may interfere with B-12 absorption.
- You have another autoimmune disorder. People with endocrine-related autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes or thyroid disease, may have an increased risk of developing a specific type of vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia called pernicious anemia.
Vitamin C deficiency anemia
Your risk of vitamin C deficiency anemia may be increased if:
- You're malnourished and you're not getting the nutrients and vitamins you need.
- You smoke. Smoking can lead to vitamin C deficiency because it decreases the absorption of this vitamin.
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