Lack of iron in the body can present with anemia (so-called microcytic anemia) and can have several causes. The most common of which is dietary deficiency (lack of intake of iron from foods rich in iron). For pre-menopausal women, menstrual problems (prolonged or heavy menses) can also cause iron deficiency. Occult bleeding, especially from the gastrointestinal tract caused by undetected stomach ulcers, parasites, or even cancer, can present with low iron.
Low B-12 can also cause anemia of a different morphology (so-called megaloblastic) and may be due to lack of dietary intake. This is most commonly seen in vegetarians since B12 is mainly found in animal meat. Those who had gastric or intestinal surgery would also have low B12 due to poor absorption of the vitamin.
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