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Posts Tagged ‘blood’

B-Gone, Heart Disease

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

A study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that regular intake of vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and B9 (folate) can prevent premature death of heart disease and stroke.

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.

Diabetics, Take Heed

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

A new study released by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) warns diabetics who take metformin to get their blood checked regularly for vitamin deficiencies, particularly B12.

Sold under the brand name of Glucophage, metformin is often prescribed to patients who suffer from type 2 diabetes.  Metformin increases the body’s receptiveness to insulin while, at the same time, significantly decreasing the amount of glucose secreted by the liver; additionally, it also aids in lowering bad cholesterol.   Scientists, however, have reason to believe that metformin may prevent the body from efficiently absorbing B12, a vitamin which is essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system and red blood cell production.  According to recent research, patients who take metformin are 10% – 30% more likely to have difficulty utilizing B12.  Health experts urge anybody taking the medication over a long period of time to have their B12 levels tested routinely.

B12 deficiency is often misdiagnosed, as its symptoms are similar to those of many other illnesses.

Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Depression
  • Loss of memory
  • Tingling and numbness in the extremities
  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Slow reflexes
  • Slow blood clotting
  • Dandruff
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Red or sore tongue
  • Menstrual complications

Treatment for B12 deficiency may include a series of B12 vitamin supplements taken in the form of intramuscular injections.

References:

Bloomberg Businessweek

Web MD

Diabetes Self-Management

B12 Deficiency Linked to Cognitive Decline, and more

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Research is showing that many older people could benefit from getting more vitamin B12 than they currently do. Some 10% to 15% of people over age 60 are outright deficient, and many more are borderline deficient. Their blood levels of B12 are in what’s called a “low-normal” range, and if their doctor isn’t up on the latest research, they won’t be treated for B12 deficiency with supplemental B12. That’s a shame, because research now shows that low B12 can cause all sorts of problems, and that getting an optimal amount can boost brain power, lift the mood, improve bone density,and help to maintain healthy hearing and eyesight.

Here’s what the latest research shows vitamin B12 does:

Brain health: One study found that older people with lower-than-average B12 levels were correlated with signs of brain shrinkage, an early sign of impaired cognitive function and Alzheimer’s disease. Even B12 levels that are above the traditional cutoff for deficiency — and seemingly adequate — may impact cognition in older people. B12 is needed to maintain the fatty myelin sheath that wraps around and protects nerves, including nerve cells in the brain.

Eyesight: Harvard researchers found favorable results for women aged 40 and older who supplemented with 1,000 micrograms of B12. They attribute it to lower levels of the amino acid homocysteine and better antioxidant effects. Both improved blood vessel function in the retina of the eye.

Keeps your hearing sharp. There may be a connection between B12 deficiency and hearing. One study found that low blood levels of vitamin B12 were linked to a higher risk of hearing loss in women in their 60s. Toxic homocysteine may damage the delicate cells that transmit sound waves in the inner ear.

Mental health: A study from the National Institute of Aging found a high incidence of depression in women with low B12 levels. B12 is needed for the production of important brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin, the “sleep” hormone.

Maintains strong bones. In the Framingham Offspring Osteoporosis Study, people with low B12 levels had lower-than-average bone mineral density. B12 may build stronger bones by aiding osteoblasts, the cells that build bone, and by lowering homocysteine, which weakens bone by interfering with collagen cross-linking, the molecular “stitching” that makes bones strong and flexible.

Older people often don’t absorb enough B12, even when they get enough in their diet. Some experts believe that blood B12 levels should be at least 350 picomoles/liter (or 44 picograms/mL.) It’s a good idea to have your blood level checked if you are over age 50.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, depression, numbness and tingling of the arms and, most commonly, the legs, difficulty walking, memory loss, disorientation, tongue soreness, and appetite loss. Because so many older people are borderline deficient, more experts are recommending anyone age 50 or older get at least 100 to 400 mcg a day of B12.

Your risk for deficiency increases as you get older, and the consequences for your health can be devastating. Taking a B12 supplement is good insurance against deficiency, and B12 supplements are also very well tolerated. It’s a good idea to ask your doctor to check your B12 levels to determine whether you may have a severe deficiency that warrants much higher levels of supplementation.

Test For Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

Vitamin B12

Until recently, it has been difficult to test for vitamin B12 deficiency. An inability to properly absorb vitamin B-12 causes pernicious anemia and leads to fatigue and neurological problems. Physicians lacked a safe and simple way to test their patients for poor vitamin B12 absorption. In humans, only two enzymatic reactions are dependent on vitamin B12. In the first reaction, methylmalonic acid is converted to succinyl-CoA by using vitamin B12 as a cofactor. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to increased levels of serum methylmalonic acid. Homocysteine is converted to methionine by using vitamin B12 and folic acid as cofactors. A deficiency of vitamin B12 or folic acid may lead to increased homocysteine levels. An understanding of the vitamin B12 absorption cycle helps clarify the potential causes of deficiency. The acidic environment of the stomach helps to breakdown the vitamin B12 that is bound to food. The intrinsic factor that is released by parietal cells in the stomach binds to vitamin B12 in the duodenum.

New Test

Extensive research has resulted in a more accurate and safer test for vitamin B12 deficiency.The new test involves drinking a small amount of vitamin B12 labeled with radioactive carbon 14, and then extracting a drop of blood. The amount of carbon 14 labeled vitamin B12 in the blood sample is measured with an accelerator mass spectrometer that can count single atoms of carbon 14. The radiation dose involved is equivalent to that received on a cross-country flight.

Effects Of Vitamin B12

Monday, January 15th, 2007

The Importance Of Vitamin B12

The amount of vitamin B12 required by the human body is relatively low, but the function it performs can not be ignored. The two most significant functions of vitamin B12 are cell division and the formation of red blood cells. The absorption of vitamin B12 within the body is a complicated process because it involves the release of some intrinsic stomach liquids, including stomach acids. Vitamin B12 is found naturally in many plant and animal sources. However, neither plants nor animals can directly synthesize this vitamin. Certain bacterium is capable of producing vitamin B12, and later adds them to plants. Animals become a source of vitamin B12 after they eat those plants.

Side Effects Of Vitamin B12

Scientific studies have found that vitamin B12 has very low potential for toxicity. This means that even if the vitamin is taken in excessive amounts it can not cause adverse effects. Even in high doses, oral vitamin B12 is well tolerated by the body. Very rarely are there reports of hypersensitive reactions such as urticaria, rash and pruritis, and these occur only in patients receiving parenteral vitamin B12. Those patients who experience hypersensitive reactions from parenteral supplementation may also have the same reaction from oral supplementation. It is advised that patients who are allergic to cobalamin or cobalt should not take vitamin B12.

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