What is Vitamin B12 and Why Take It?
Your B12 levels can make or break your day. We truly thrive on Energy.
We drink caffeine, take energy supplements, exercise and crave energy boosts most of our day.
B12 is a natural energy support which is crucial for many important functions. It’s an essential nutrient that your body can’t make on its own, so you need to get it from your diet or supplements.
Your body takes good care of you and will store extra B12 in your liver so that you can use it when needed. Since you may not know you are deficient for a few years you could have serious symptoms that are tough to revers at that point.
B12 helps maintain normal brain function and is necessary for keeping your nerves healthy while supporting the production of DNA and red blood cells. It also helps the conversion of food to energy.
Many people concerned about memory loss simply have B12 deficiency. It is typically tested to rule out dementia.
Pretty powerful- a Super-Hero of sorts.
Could You Be Deficient in Vitamin B12?
These days, many of us are Vegans or Vegetarians and may not even know we are deficient.
· 92% Vegans had B12 deficiency
· 75% Vegetarians had B12 deficiency
Even young, healthy, vitamin-taking meat-eaters may not be getting enough B12, according to Tufts University nutritionist Katherine Tucker, PhD. In a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Tucker found that 40% of 3000 adults under 50 low enough to cause problems
Are you tired a lot, have brain fog or nerve tingling? Have you been diagnosed with low iron levels or as anemic?
Your body needs B12 to form Red Blood Cells which transport oxygen (and Iron).
Fatigue is the most common symptom of people who have low levels of vitamin B12. Other signs of B12 deficiency include:
Vitamin B12 deficiency is also linked to serious health complications, such as anemia, nerve damage, and dementia. Low B12 can cause high homocysteine, an amino acid, which can lead to heart disease and stroke
There’s TWO major reasons for B12 deficiency:
Not consuming enough vitamin B12
Your body does not absorb or store enough of the vitamin
You may ask ‘can’t I just test my B12 levels?’
Yes, you can test blood levels. BUT PLEASE DON’T RELY ON IT! It’s not a completely accurate picture of how your body is utilizing B12. You can actually have high blood levels of B12, but that doesn’t reflect your intra-cellular levels; meaning how your body has access to it for daily function.
There are intracellular nutrient tests available through a functional nutrition professional or physician who understands the science and correlation of all results. Remember, nutrients, amino acids and hormones work like a symphony, dependent on one another. There are other factors these educated professionals evaluate as well to suggest your best next steps nutritionally.
Are You Absorbing Vitamin B12?
Although you eat food with excellent sources of B12, there’s a decent chance you are not reaping the benefits. Here’s a few reasons why courtesy of Merck Manual:
Overgrowth of bacteria in part of the small intestine
Inflammatory bowel disease affecting the last part of the small intestine
Drugs such as antacids and metformin (used to treat diabetes)
Lack of intrinsic factor – can cause Pernicious Anemia
Liver disorders may interfere with the storage of vitamin B12
Decreased stomach acidity (common among older people) - reduces the body’s ability to remove vitamin B12 from the protein in meat.
Vitamin B12 found in vitamin supplements can continue to be well absorbed.
How is B12 absorbed…. or not?
There are actually a few reasons you might be lacking B12.
It is a water- soluble nutrient that disappears pretty quickly from your system. Unless of course you have good storage in your liver.
You may have a genetic variation called MTHFR, which inhibits the conversion & absorption of B12 in the non-active form (cyanocobalamin)
You might be taking acid reducers, which affect the natural absorption of B12.
You just don’t get enough in your food- if you are a vegetarian, vegan or restrict animal products from your daily diet
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
What depletes B vitamins in general?
Well do you have lots of stress each day? Are you sitting at computer many hours? Do you eat your share of sweets? How’s your alcohol intake?
I know, I know. We can all answer yes to most of these lifestyles. So, what do we do?
Sorry to break it to you, but B vitamins are sensitive. All that great stuff in your day uses them up and fast!
MTHFR - have you heard of this genetic variation yet?
Some people call it the Monday, Thursday, Friday gene. In short, if you have a mutation, which many people have at least one, you may not be able to convert the inactive B vitamins into a form your body can use.
Many foods are ‘fortified’ with the inactive forms of B vitamins because they are much less costly, and research was not available years ago when fortification was started. The same goes with supplements. Using MethylCobalamin or Adenosylcobalamin is more costly, but typically more effective. It also depends on your unique genetic make- up.
OR maybe you’re one of over 15 million Americans taking an antacid for reflux, indigestion or even GERD.
Got GERD? Using Acid reducing Meds?
People taking acid-inhibiting medications, such as Prilosec, Zantac, Pepcid, or Nexium, could be short on Vitamin B12. They were created for short term use, not for chronic suffers.
According to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) suppress gastric acid production, which can mean that the Vitamin B12 in food is not properly absorbed into the body.
The B12 conversation is vast.
Our vision is to help you have the most energy you possibly can, naturally, with optimal health. We hope B12-Part I has provided an introduction to why you might need to take vitamin B12, reasons you may not be absorbing it.
B12-Part II will focus on repletion, B12’s buddy- IRON and basic suggestions for repletion. Stay tuned.... for our next blog about your favorite Energy Super-Hero!