By the way, doctor: Can I take a pill instead of B12 injections?

Can I take a pill instead of B12 injections?

Published: October, 2008

Q. I have pernicious anemia, and I get a monthly injection of vitamin B12. I have heard that there may be a pill that I could take instead. Is that true?

A. Pernicious anemia is a condition that occurs when the body doesn't make enough red blood cells because of lack of vitamin B12, which is absorbed in the ileum (part of the small intestine). To be absorbed, the vitamin needs to be attached to a protein, called intrinsic factor, that's secreted in the stomach. Pernicious anemia occurs when people develop an autoimmune condition that reduces the production of intrinsic factor — and, therefore, the absorption of vitamin B12. A number of other conditions can also impair a person's ability to absorb B12, which is found in meat, dairy products, and vitamin-fortified products like breakfast cereals.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »