Welcome to the Vitamin B12 blog! Find information on topics related to vitamin B12. This blog is dedicated to providing up to date research, news and resources pertaining to vitamin B12, general health information surrounding the benefits of vitamin B12. Learn from, and contribute to information on B12, vitamin B12 and other connected subjects. Feel free to participate in blog discussions and contribute your opinion on the related topics covered in the Vitamin B12 blog.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can start with a few symptoms like tiredness and slight tingling or numbness in hands and feet; ignore the symptoms and low B12 levels could escalate into severe nerve damage, disease or death.
What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
Below is a list of some of the most common side effects which may arise from insufficient stores of vitamin B12.
(Please note that the severity of the symptoms may vary according to the stage of B12 deficiency.)
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient. Therefore, your body is only able to store it for a short time. Vitamin B12 has many important functions in your body.
Vitamin B12 is essential for producing plenty of healthy red blood cells and for synthesizing DNA. A lack of B12 severely reduces your body’s ability to make sufficient red blood cells for carrying oxygen throughout your body.
Pernicious anemiais a life-threatening condition that is often the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Your nervous system is dependent on vitamin B12, which enhances communication between the brain and your many nerve sensors, such as those in your fingertips, feet and mouth. This explains why sufferers of B12 deficiency notice a sensation similar to wearing gloves throughout the day; others report that their food tastes unusual, another clue that the body’s neurons are not operating correctly.
A deficiency of vitamin B12 compromises your nervous system and could result in permanent neurological damage.
Researchers have found a direct link between vitamin B12 deficiency and brain atrophy among the elderly. In one study which appeared in the Journal of Nutrition, senior citizens who had the highest levels of B12 experienced healthier cognitive functioning skills.
Vitamin B12 helps your body monitor already healthy homocysteine levels, a factor in heart health.
What diseases are associated with B12 deficiency?
There are many illnesses which occur when B12 levels are low; some conditions may be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency, while others are closely correlated. Below are some common illnesses associated with B12 deficiency, including many which most people don’t realize are affected by vitamin B12 levels.
Alzheimer’s disease, brain deterioration, cognitive decline, memory loss and other forms of dementia
Neurological diseases such as Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Cardiovascular disease, caused by high homocysteine levels
Mental illness, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and psychosis
Autism spectrum disorder
Autoimmune diseases, such as AIDS and pernicious anemia
According to aTufts University study, 40 percent of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have low to medium-low B12 levels, indicating a deficiency severe enough to cause neurological disorder symptoms, while 9 percent are depleted enough to the point of irreversible neurological damage and life-threatening symptoms. Approximately 16 percent are close to becoming vitamin B12 deficient.
Why is vitamin B12 deficiency overlooked?
Only a blood test can properly determine if somebody is suffering from B12 deficiency, and most physicians don’t include a B12 screening with yearly check-ups. Also, many of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are similar to common health disorders, such as diabetes, chronic depression and fatigue.
How can you get enough B12?
Vitamin B12 is found in many high protein foods. Excellent sources of B12 are:
Lean beef cuts, such as chuck and sirloin
Fish, particularly salmon, tuna and halibut
Shellfish, including crab meat, mussels, clams and oysters
Dairy products, such as swiss cheese, yogurt, milk and cottage cheese
Vegans are at a high risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency, as their diet specifically excludes food items which provide vitamin B12. Other people who are at risk of getting B12 deficiency are patients of weight loss surgery, diabetics on metformin, individuals with gastrointestinal disease, people who lackintrinsic factorand anybody taking prescription heartburn medication.
The only way to prevent becoming deficient in vitamin B12 is by constantly replenishing your body with B12-rich nutrients.
Alternatively, patients diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency are encouraged to take vitamin B12 supplements, such as sublingual B12 tablets, B12 shots, or over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12.
Find more information on preventing vitamin B12 deficiency:
We’ve all heard of overeaters binging themselves into a state of depression- a vicious circle which is difficult to get out of. But eating for happiness?
Vitamin B-12 deficiency is linked with depression
Vitamin B12 is essential for many aspects of brain development, such as myelination (the production of a protective layer around the brain) and the distributing of neurotransmitters to and from the brain. So it comes as no surprise that the Mayo Clinic suggests eating foods rich in vitamin B-12 as a means of preventing the onset of clinical depression.
“Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”
That’sa great motto if you happen to be an android. The fact is, eating is a sensual experience which we were meant to enjoy. (Why else would we have taste buds?) The key to good nutrition is finding foods you love that will love you right back.
Here are some yummy appetizers and entrées which are naturally high in vitamin B-12:
Fish tacos- Made popular by Rubio’s, the fish tacos is a tasty fusion of Cal-Mex and seafood cuisine. Take a soft flour tortilla, add some fiery mango salsa, a dab of sour cream and a grilled fish fillet (hint: salmon is high in B-12). It’s a wrap!
Are you a Sushi lover? Then you’re going to love this- sushi and sashimi recipes typically include such high-in-B12 ingredients as roe (fish eggs), octopus, crab, shrimp, and mackerel. Pass the soy sauce!
New England clam chowder- just the name elicits images of salty sea breezes, sailboats and clam bakes. Don’t have any recipes handy? Here is a list of variations on this classic soup recipe.
Lean cuts of lamb are high in vitamin B-12 and a popular staple of many Middle Eastern cuisines. Here is a flavorful Lamb Moussaka recipe, as featured in epicurious.
Tuna casserole is one of America’s fave comfort foods and it’s simple to make- combine canned tuna, cooked broad noodles, and a can of concentrated mushroom soup. Top it with some fried onions and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes. Tuna is high in B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Hamburgers barbecued with low-fat ground beef chuck are a great source of vitamin B-12. Serve it up on whole-grain buns with a side of oven roasted root veggies for a healthy upgrade from the typical artery-clogging burgers ‘n fries.
The Japanese study proves that women who eat foods enriched vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folate are less likely to suffer heart attack or die of a stroke. Japanese men who eat B-rich foods are less likely to suffer heart failure.
These findings confirm similar studies which have been conducted in the US and Europe, all of which came to the same conclusion; B vitamins such as B12, B6 and folate are essential for cardiovascular health.
Through the Japan Collaborative Cohort (JACC) Study, a survey which collected data on the dietary habits of over 85,000 Japanese between the ages of 40 and 79, scientists were able to gain information on a correlation between the amount of B vitamin intake and likeliness of mortality from heart disease and stroke. Out of the 85,000 men and women studied, 986 died from stroke, 424 perished from heart attack and over 2,000 died from a variety of heart-related illnesses – all in a 14-year time frame.
Scientists grouped test subjects into five categories, varying in relation to B6, B12 and folate intake. Of the female test subjects who ate the lowest amounts of B6, B12 and folate, more were likely to die of stroke or heart attack than those who ate a moderate amount of B vitamins. Similarly, men who consumed the least B vitamins were more likely to die from cardiovascular illness than others. Of the test subjects who reported eating a steady diet of B6, B12 and folate, fewer suffered mortalities related to stroke or heart disease than counterparts from any of the other groups.
Scientists believe that B vitamins lower homocysteine levels, an amino acid which many doctors believe increase one’s risk of suffering from heart disease and stroke. Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid prevent the accumulation of homocysteine. Eating whole grains, leafy vegetables, legumes and fish are excellent ways to get B vitamins. However, many suffer from an inability to completely digest B12, resulting in B12 deficiency. Symptoms include fatigue, memory loss and numbness or tingling in the extremities.
Pernicious anemia (also known as Biermer’s anemia, Addison’s anemia, or Addison-Biermer anemia) is a form of megaloblastic anemia which occurs due to a vitamin B12 deficiency. It is most often caused by impaired absorption of vitamin B12 in the GI tract due to the absence of intrinsic factor in the setting of atrophic gastritis, and more specifically of loss of gastric parietal cells. Future posts will fully describe and explain exactly the functions of these processes.
The name of the disease comes from the historical fact that early sufferers were always properly diagnosed after they were classified as anemic (had low blood hemoglobin levels). However, with more modern tests which specifically target B12 absorption, the disease may properly be diagnosed before patients actually become anemic. An individual with this illness will have to supplement his/her B-12 for the rest of their lives or risk the onslaught of extremely unpleasant symptoms. Most commonly the cause for impaired binding of vitamin B12 by intrinsic factor is autoimmune atrophic gastritis, in which the person’s own antibodies are directed against certain cells, resulting in their death, as well as against the intrinsic factor itself, rendering it unable to bind vitamin B-12.
Sometimes the loss of the GI cells may simply due to a weakening digestive system, such as that frequently occurring in elderly people affected and Helicobacter pylori infection. Note that forms of vitamin B12 deficiency other than pernicious anemia must be considered as a B12 deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia, which is easily mistaken for classical pernicious anemia, The deficiency may also be caused by infection with a tapeworm, possibly due to the parasite’s competition for vitamin B12
The treatment of Pernicious Anemia varies from country to country and from area to area, but there is yet no cure. Cobalamin (one of the forms of B-12) is usually injected and is given every month in some countries and every three months in others. The single most common cause of complaint by members of the Pernicious Anemia Society is that patients needs vary and some patients need more frequent injections than others.
Patients who are needle-phobic, or patients who are unable to receive injections for another reason can be prescribed cyanocobalmin tablets in very high doses, which means that some of the B12 is absorbed in other places in the bowel other than the terminal ileum where B12 absorption usually takes place. The efficacy of using B12 tablets to treat pernicious anemia (by definition due to atrophic gastritis) is likely not to be sufficient, as the body will have trouble absorbing it as it does from food.
How does Vitamin B12 deficiency occur? What are my options if I need B12 supplementation? What will happen to me? These are the questions over 99 % of individuals with B12 deficiency ask themselves. This blog is designed to answer these and other questions concerning vitamin B12, its’ deficiency and its’ supplementation. With instructions concerning lifestyle and dietary changes, as well as information from scientific studies about this specific physiological problem, we hope you will feel 100% well again.
The human physiology of vitamin B12 is very complicated, and due to this is prone to problems leading to vitamin B12 deficiency. Unlike most nutrients, absorption of vitamin B12 actually begins in the mouth where small amounts of unbound crystalline B12 can be absorbed through the mucosa membrane. In the stomach a specific gastric enzyme is needed to separate B12 from the food ingested, and a protein must bind with it for it to be absorbed and processed through the body. Proper absorption of vitamin B12 requires an intact and functioning stomach, exocrine pancreas, intrinsic factor, and small bowel. Problems with any one of these organs makes a vitamin B12 deficiency possible and likely.
However, there can be some genetic aspects in the problems associated with malabsorption, and due to the complexity of B12 assimilation in the body, geriatric patients, many of whom are hypo-acidic due to reduced GI tract cell function, have an increased risk of B12 deficiency. For these individuals supplementation becomes a necessary step, otherwise their life quality and life expectancy can plummet.
B12 supplements come in a few forms, most commonly though in an ingestible pill, sublingual pill or spray and the injection. With malabsorption in the GI tract, swallowing vitamin pills equals to flushing them down the toilet, as around 80%-90% of hard vitamins will not get absorbed. The sublingual B12 becomes the next possible step in supplementation; however this too is a fairly poor choice. Although researchers are not fully sure why this occurs, in most cases of sublingual use, only around 5% of the vitamin is absorbed by the body. The only truly viable choice in this case is to begin B12 injections, which unfortunately are not the most pleasant of experiences, and can be expensive.