Screening and Prevention of Pernicious Anemia

You can't prevent pernicious anemia caused by a lack of intrinsic factor. Without intrinsic factor, you won't be able to absorb vitamin B12 and will develop pernicious anemia.

Although uncommon, some people develop pernicious anemia because they don't get enough vitamin B12 in their diets. You can take steps to prevent pernicious anemia caused by dietary factors.

Eating foods high in vitamin B12 can help prevent low vitamin B12 levels. Good food sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Breakfast cereals with added vitamin B12
  • Meats such as beef, liver, poultry, and fish
  • Eggs and dairy products (such as milk, yogurt, and cheese)
  • Foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as soy-based beverages and vegetarian burgers

If you’re a strict vegetarian, talk with your doctor about having your vitamin B12 level checked regularly.

Vitamin B12 also is found in multivitamins and B-complex vitamin supplements. Doctors may recommend supplements for people at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency, such as strict vegetarians or people who have had stomach surgery.

Older adults may have trouble absorbing vitamin B12. Thus, doctors may recommend that older adults eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take vitamin B12 supplements.


Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.