Vitamin deficiency anemia (megaloblastic anemia) is a lack of healthy red blood cells. It is caused by lower than normal amounts of certain vitamins. Folate, vitamin B-12 and vitamin C are linked to vitamin deficiency anemia. Vitamin deficiency anemia can occur if you don't eat enough folate, vitamin B-12 or vitamin C, i.e. it can occur if the body has trouble absorbing or processing these vitamins.

Vitamin deficiency is not the cause of all anemias. Other causes include iron deficiency and certain blood diseases. Vitamin deficiency anemia can usually be corrected with vitamin supplements and diet changes.


Symptoms of vitamin deficiency anemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Weight loss
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Personality changes
  • Unsteady movements
  • Mental confusion or forgetfulness

It usually develop slowly over several months to years. The symptoms may be subtle at first, but they increase as the deficiency worsens.


When the body doesn't have enough of the vitamins needed to produce adequate numbers of healthy red blood cells it leads to vitamin deficiency anemia. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. Lack of certain vitamins can cause vitamin deficiency anemia whereas as well as the inability properly absorb the nutrients from the foods you.

Causes of vitamin deficiency anemias include:

  • Folate deficiency anemia.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia (pernicious anemia).
  • Vitamin C deficiency anemia.

Risk factors

Risk factors for vitamin deficiency anemia vary by type of vitamin deficiency.

The risk of folate deficiency anemia may be increased when:

  • A woman is pregnant
  • Having intestinal problems.
  • Abusing alcohol.
  • Taking certain prescription medications.
  • Undergoing hemodialysis.
  • Undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Not eating a lot of fruits and vegetables.

The risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia may be increased when:

  • You don't eat meat and dairy products,
  • You have an intestinal disease
  • You lack intrinsic factor.
  • You take certain medications.
  • You have another autoimmune disorder.

The risk of vitamin C deficiency anemia may be increased if:

  • You're malnourished
  • You smoke.
  • You abuse alcohol.
  • You have a chronic illness


Being deficient in vitamins increases the risk of many health problems:

  • Pregnancy complications.
  • Nervous system disorders.
  • Scurvy.


You can prevent some forms of vitamin deficiency anemias by choosing a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods.

Most adults need these daily dietary amounts of the following vitamins:

  • Vitamin B-12, 2.4 micrograms (mcg)
  • Folate or folic acid, 400 mcg
  • Vitamin C, 75 to 90 milligrams

Pregnant and breast-feeding women may require more of each vitamin.

Smoking interferes with the absorption of nutrients, such as vitamin C, so it can raise the risk of a vitamin deficiency. If you smoke, quit.

Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Alcohol can contribute to vitamin deficiency anemia.