Last year, Dr. Oz aired America’s B12 Deficiency, a highly informative and eye-opening program focusing on the increasing rate of vitamin B12 deficiency anemia in our society. Here is a recap of part 1 of that show.
“Are you exhausted? Are you forgetting things? Are you feeling depressed? You may just think it’s your age. But it might be something much more insidious. You could be suffering from a condition called vitamin B12 deficiency.”
These are the first questions that Dr. Oz asks his audience in this informative segment on vitamin B12 deficiency, a rising epidemic in the US that currently affects up to 40 percent of the population.
Enter the introduction, alarming, but rightfully so:
“There’s a stealth weapon protecting your body from disease and you don’t even know it: Vitamin B12, nature’s superhero of supplements.”
Vitamin B12 is needed for healthy red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to the brain. Symptoms resulting from low vitamin B12 levels may include depression, fatigue, and memory loss, and may even increase your risk for stroke and heart disease.
While vitamin B12 occurs naturally in protein foods such as beef, chicken, and fish, an increasing number of individuals must compensate for low vitamin B12 levels by supplementing with weekly vitamin B12 shots or sublingual B12 lozenges.
“Could you be suffering of a deficiency of the super vitamin you didn’t know you needed?”
“Two-thirds of you have vitamin B12 deficiency”
Dr. Oz shocks his audience by informing them that an earlier selected portion of the audience received vitamin B12 blood tests, and that roughly two-thirds of the audience has been found vitamin B12 deficient.
He introduces director and cofounder of the Yale Prevention Research Center, David Katz, along with nutritionist Kate Geagan.
Dr. Katz is not surprised by the blood test results, adding that “…the conservative estimates have B12 deficiency level about 15%, but as you mentioned earlier, up to 40%.”
“Why should we be concerned?”
Vitamins are essential for fundamental health. Vitamin B12 is necessary for plenty of red blood cells, and a deficiency could indicate pernicious anemia. Vitamin B12 protects the nervous system, insulating individual neurons from harm while also sustaining normal intercellular communication. Vitamin B12 also supports DNA synthesis, so naturally, a depletion in vitamin B12 can be disastrous for your basic physiological functioning.
…”without adequate levels of B12, we can’t make DNA…if you can’t make DNA, your cells can’t divide, you can’t replace worn out body parts, so it’s effects really ripple throughout all of human physiology.”
Adds Dr. Oz, in other words, vitamin B12 deficiency ages us- makes us feel older than we really are.
Why the rise in vitamin B12 deficiency?
Part of the reason we’re seeing escalating incidences of vitamin B12 deficiency is simply because Baby Boomers are getting older, resulting in a large group of individuals who are having difficulty digesting vitamin B12 naturally from the foods they eat.
Add to that the popularity of many prescription medications that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, such as aspirins, acid reflux treatments, and diabetes drugs.
Also, as more people are being advised to follow a vegan diet, or a low-fat diet including foods that have little vitamin B12, more US citizens are finding their vitamin B12 levels diminishing, especially when compared to cultures that eat plenty of B12-rich seafood, such as Japan, where vitamin B12 deficiency rates are consistently lower than ours.
Detecting vitamin B12 deficiency
“…the blood test that you could get can be valuable to you, but equally important to me is the symptoms you have.”
To help establish if you may have vitamin B12 deficiency, Dr. Oz recommends asking yourself the following questions:
#1: Do you suffer from an overall lack of energy?
#2: Have you noticed any unusual mood changes?
#3: Do you have difficulty concentrating or remembering things?
To be continued…
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Image courtesy of David Berkowitz/ Wikimedia