Vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies stunted man’s height
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Vitamins and minerals are vital to ensure our bodies function to the best of their ability. Deficiencies can cause serious and debilitating side effects. And in some cases they can even stunt your growth, if they occur when you are younger.
This was the case for one 18-year-old man who was admitted to a medical centre with “severe” anaemia as a result of both a B12 and iron deficiency.
His story was presented as a case study in Clinical and Experimental Pediatrics.
Most noticeable was that the deficiencies resulted in “short stature” – his height was recorded as 137.7 centimetres, or four feet five inches, and “delayed puberty”.
The study explained: “An 18-year-old male patient was admitted to our institution with principal complaints of short stature, prepubertal sexual maturation, and exertional dyspnea, for one year.
“He was severely anaemic, with a haemoglobin level of 3.3 grams per decilitre (g/dL).
“Review of system on admission revealed long-lasting dizziness and dyspnea on exertion, and these symptoms had become aggravated in the past year.
“He also complained of early satiety during meals, but denied gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhoea.
“On physical examination, he was alert, but chronically ill-looking and very pale.”
Medical staff noted that his height of 137.7cm and weight of 28.9 kilograms were both below the third percentile for his age.
His public hair and genital development were recorded as at Tanner stage one – usually the stage of preadolescent people, meaning there are no signs of puberty.
Further tests revealed his serum iron levels were 23 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) – below normal levels of 50 to 170 µg/dL.
Serum vitamin B12 levels were 60 picograms per millilitre (pg/mL) – below healthy levels of 211-911 pg/mL.
The study concluded: “Based on these findings, the patient was diagnosed with anaemia caused by a combined vitamin B12 and iron deficiency attributable to impaired absorption caused by short bowel syndrome.”
As a result he was given vitamin B12 and iron as injections into the vein, a method often used if someone is unable to properly absorb them.
“He was discharged on the 10th day after admission with improvement in his dizziness and exertional dyspnea,” the study said.
“After discharge, he was maintained on parenteral vitamin B12 and iron supplementation in the outpatient clinic.”
Two years after treatment began, the patient’s weight and height had increased to 42.3kg and 154.2cm.
It added: “He has also attained puberty, with Tanner stage four pubic hair and a testicular volume of more than 10 mL.”
Good sources of vitamin B12 include:
- Yeast extract.
Iron sources include:
- Red meat
- Beans, such as red kidney beans, edamame beans and chickpeas
- Dried fruit – such as dried apricots
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Soybean flour.
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