Is a Lack of B12 the Source of Your Health Issues?

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If you have a wide variety of health issues and have not been able to locate the source, you may want to check your B12 levels.

B12 is a vitally important nutrient in many bodily functions, yet studies show that 1 out of 4 adults in the US are B12 deficient, and nearly ½ the population has sub-optimal B12 levels. Most people over 50 are likely you are to have a vitamin B12 deficiency, as you absorb less with age. Strict vegetarians and vegans are at risk as the only dietary source are animal products. Studies in India show about 80% of adults there are deficient in vitamin B12.

Today’s research are excerpts from a newsletter by Dr. Joseph Mercola. Click here to read his full article. His B12 article is very lengthy, but if, after reading these excerpts, you feel that the info applies to you, you will probably want to read his article in its entirety.

B12’s Work in the Body

Take a look at this extensive list of B12’s involvement in your health.

  • Proper digestion, food absorption, iron use, carbohydrate and fat
    metabolism
  • Healthy nervous system function. B12 builds the myelin which
    insulates and protects your nerve endings, allowing them to
    communicate.
  • Promotion of normal nerve growth and development
  • Help with regulation of the formation of red blood cells
    cell formation and longevity
  • Proper circulation
  • Adrenal hormone production
  • Healthy immune system function
  • Support of female reproductive health and pregnancy 
  • Feelings of well-being and mood regulation
  • Mental clarity, concentration, memory function
  • Physical, emotional and mental energy

Common Health Risks from B12 Deficiency

This is a partial list of health problems for which a B12 deficiency could create increased risk:

1. pernicious anemia
2. cancer, specifically breast and cervical cancer, due to B12’s role in DNA synthesis
3. heart disease and stroke, due to elevated homocysteine levels
4. birth defects, also due to elevated homocysteine levels
5. infertility and repeated miscarriages
5. dementia
6. Alzheimer’s*
7. Also, possibility of link to migraines
*(Research links B12 deficiency reversible dementia in the elderly. This type of treatable dementia differs from Alzheimer’s, though seniors with a lack of B12 do suffer more from brain atrophy or shrinkage – a characteristic of Alzheimer’s.)

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Other General Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

Obviously, any health issues in the above areas could signify a B12 deficiency. Other general symptoms may include:

– mental fogginess
– mood swings
– lack of motivation
– feelings of apathy
– difficulty sleeping
– muscle weakness
– tingling in your extremities
– depression
– symptoms mimicking multiple sclerosis

Common Causes B12 Deficiency

Reading through the list below makes it becomes clear why so much of the population is B12 deficient. There is a wide variety of causes!

Aging – B12 absorption typically decreases with age.
Strict Veg Diet – B12 deficiency is extremely common in strict vegetarians and vegans.
Antacids – Both antacids and ant-ulcer drugs decrease stomach acid, a crucial ingredient for the body to absorb B12 .
Diabetes Medication – Metformin© (brand names Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Fortamet, Riomet, Glumetza) interferes with calcium metabolism needed for B12 absorption. The longer a person with Type 2 diabetes takes Metformin© and the higher the dose, the greater the risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.
Excessive coffee drinking – more than 4 cups per day
Bacterial infection – Infection with Helicobacter pylori, a common contributor to stomach ulcers
Gastric bypass surgery
Laughing Gas – ample evidence points possible destruction of the body’s B12 reserve by nitrous oxide exposure
Food-Cobalamin Malabsorption Syndrome – Your stomach lining loses its ability to produce protein that binds to vitamin B12 for absorption. Atrophic gastritis is the most common cause (chronic inflammation of mucous membranes in the stomach). Again, more common with age.
Prescription Drugs – A large variety can cause B12 deficiency. See Dr. Mercola’s full article for the list.

Natural Sources of B12

Vitamin B12 is present in natural form only in animal sources of food. Though seafood is a good source of B12, Dr. Mercola does not recommend it due to mercury levels. Other good sources are:

Beef and beef liver – preferably grass fed
Chicken – preferably organic
Milk – preferably non-pasteurized
Eggs – preferably free range (Omega-3 enhanced are less healthy than regular eggs.) Raw or soft-boiling gives the most health benefits.

Testing for B12 Deficiency

Blood tests for vitamin B12 deficiency aren’t as clear cut or helpful as they are for other nutritional deficiencies. Read Dr. Mercola’s full article for details. Though it is water soluble, B12 doesn’t exit your body quickly in urine. It is stored in your liver, kidneys and other body tissues. As a result, a deficiency may not show itself for a number of years, depending on your diet and your body’s ability to efficiently absorb B12. After about seven years of B12 deficiency, irreversible brain damage can result.

Since Vitamin B12 supplementation is completely non-toxic and inexpensive, Dr. Mercola recommends supplementing your diet with B12 and see if your symptoms improve.

Adjusting your diet can be helpful unless the cause of the deficiency is a digestion absorption issue. If you aren’t getting sufficient B12 in your diet, or you suspect your body isn’t able to efficiently absorb the vitamin, Dr. Mercola recommends you begin supplementation immediately with either an under-the-tongue fine mist spray or vitamin B12 injections.

Excerpts from “Potentially Life-Threatening Vitamin Deficiency Affects 25% of Adults,” Dr. Joseph Mercola.

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