Cobalamin: Also called vitamin B12. A vitamin important for the normal formation of red blood cells and for the health of the nerve tissues. Undetected and untreated vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia and permanent nerve and brain damage. Pernicious anemia is a blood disorder caused by inadequate vitamin B12 in the blood. Patients who have this disorder do not produce the protein substance in the stomach that allows the body to absorb vitamin B12. This substance is called intrinsic factor (IF). Pernicious anemia is simply treated with injections of vitamin B12. The vitamin B12 has to be administered by injection because people with PA do not have IF (or an effective form of IF) and so cannot absorb vitamin B12 taken by mouth. Pernicious anemia has also been called Addison's anemia, addisonian anemia, Biermer's anemia. Patients with Crohn's disease involving the small intestine (Crohn's ileitis) or who have undergone small intestine resection may not be able to absorb vitamin B12.
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