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Posts Tagged ‘How much B12’

I Eat Healthy…So How did I Get Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013



Many people who are diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency are surprised to learn that their vitamin B12 levels have been plummeting for years, despite exercising and following a healthy low-fat diet. Here are some risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency, and warning symptoms that many doctors overlook.

I Eat Healthy…So How did I Get Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Nearly half of the American population has some form of vitamin B12 deficiency, and most don’t even realize it…

Only after you go to the doctor for symptoms of tiredness, depression, memory loss, or painful numbness, and are told after taking a blood test that your vitamin B12 levels have been dropping steadily for several years does B12 deficiency finally come under the radar.

Also read: Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency a Crisis?

Why does vitamin B12 deficiency happen?

There are many risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency, but for the most part, they can be broken down by 1) diet, and 2) vitamin B12 malabsorption.

Vitamin B12 deficiency from diet

Two out of three people diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency aren’t getting enough in their diets.

Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal-based foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. As a result of low-fat and vegan dieting, many of the foods that are highest in vitamin B12 have all but disappeared from the average American diet.

How often do you consume the following B12-rich foods?

  • Clams
  • Oysters
  • Crab
  • Halibut
  • Organ meats (liver, heart, kidneys)
  • Lean beef

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet…

If you have been advised to shun beef in favor of low-fat turkey and chicken (which have very small amounts of vitamin B12)…

Or if you consume mostly restaurant or processed foods, then you aren’t getting nearly enough vitamin B12 in your diet to prevent severe depletion by the time you reach your 30s and 40s.

Vitamin B12 malabsorption

Another third of people who suffer from severe vitamin B12 deficiency are unable to digest the nutrient efficiently from food sources.

So, even if you eat plenty of meat and fish- and even in you take regular vitamin B12 pills- you may still develop potentially life-threatening and debilitating vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, if you fall into any of these qualifying risk factors:

  • You are over the age of 50, so unable to produce enough stomach acids to break down vitamin B12
  • You have a family history for pernicious anemia
  • You have autoimmune disorders, including an intrinsic factor antibody that occurs with pernicious anemia, preventing you from absorbing vitamin B12
  • You have had stomach or intestine surgeries, either for weight loss, treatment of ulcers, or Crohn’s disease
  • You have some form of atrophic gastritis
  • If you suffer from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, celiac, or other commonly comorbid conditions

What Causes Vitamin B12 Malabsorption?

Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency

Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to severe nerve damage, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, bone loss, dementia, clinical depression, and rarely, death.

Here are some often overlooked signs that may indicate vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • Depression
  • Constant fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Hallucinations
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Brain fog
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Tinnitus (ear ringing)
  • Painful numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness and spasms
  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Sore, red smooth tongue
  • Difficulty controlling arm and leg movements
  • Frequent falling and dropping things

Top Ten Signs of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency


Doctors recommend at least 1,000-2,000 mcg doses of vitamin B12, taken as needed- once monthly or weekly, depending on the severity of symptoms.

Since vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient, it is perfectly safe to take as much as you need in order to replenish vitamin B12 levels and alleviate symptoms that occur with vitamin B12 deficiency.

For optimum absorption and effectiveness, patients should use non-dietary vitamin B12 supplements that are secreted directly into the bloodstream, and do not require swallowing or digestion through the stomach.

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Like this? Read more:

Shocking Must-See Video on Vitamin B12 Deficiency Crisis

Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency a Real Illness?


B12: The Beautiful Molecule

Image courtesy of Ambro/freedigitalphotos

Type 2 Diabetes and Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Are you at Risk?

Monday, January 2nd, 2012



If you have type 2 diabetes, your chances of developing vitamin B12 deficiency are greater than those of non-diabetics.  That’s because metformin, a popular drug for diabetes interferes with vitamin B12 absorption, causing severe B12 deficiency.  Other causes of vitamin B12 deficiency include pernicious anemia, bariatric surgery, and gastrointestinal disorders.


Vitamin B12- Cobalamin

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that occurs naturally in protein-based foods, including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese.  It is one of a group of B vitamins (B complex).  Vitamin B12 performs many crucial functions for your body:

  • Vitamin B12 aids in producing red blood cells
  • Vitamin B12 protects your nervous system
  • Vitamin B12 is required for DNA synthesis
  • Vitamin B12 lowers homocysteine levels, thus reducing your risk for heart attack and stroke
  • Vitamin B12 helps your body convert fat to energy


Metformin- its effect on B12 levels

Metformin, a hypoglycemic drug for treating type 2 diabetes, interferes with your body’s ability to digest vitamin B12.  According to numerous studies, up to 30% of diabetics who take metformin suffer the effects of vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Researchers believe that metformin may hinder the production of intrinsic factor, a protein your body uses to grab vitamin B12 from food sources and absorb it into the bloodstream. 

Other suggestions for metformin’s link with B12 deficiency include possible bacterial overgrowth and hindered movement of the small intestines.

Brain Drain Medications- Drugs that Drain the B12 out of you


How much vitamin B12 do you need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B12 varies by age, and applies to healthy individuals:

  • Infants: .4 mcg to .5 mcg
  • Toddlers: .9 mcg
  • Children, 4-8 yrs. of age: 1.2 mcg
  • Children, 9-13 yrs. of age: 1.8 mcg
  • Adult males: 2.4 mcg
  • Adult females (not pregnant or lactating): 2.4 mcg
  • Pregnant females: 2.6 mcg
  • Lactating females: 2.8 mcg

Diabetics, Take Heed

People suffering from chronic illness may opt to take much higher doses.

People who benefit from larger doses of vitamin B12 include:

  • Elderly individuals
  • People with pernicious anemia
  • People taking proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux or stomach ulcers
  • People with gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease
  • Diabetics taking metformin

Diabetics need even more B12

According to a recent 7-year survey, type 2 diabetics taking metformin may require higher doses of vitamin B12 than originally believed in order to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency, as the current RDA (2.5 mcg) is not sufficient.

  • Of the survey participants who took metformin for type 2 diabetes, 5.8% had vitamin B12 deficiency- low B12 levels in the blood.
  • Only 2.4% of diabetics not taking metformin had low levels of vitamin B12.
  • About 3.3% of test subjects who did not have diabetes showed signs of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • For diabetics, taking oral vitamin B12 supplements did not affect their B12 levels, nor did it affect the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • When intestinal disorders interfere with B12 absorption, the only other method for supplementing vitamin B12 is directly through the bloodstream.

Type 2 Diabetes Often Undetected- Do You Have These Symptoms?


Do you have vitamin B12 deficiency?

Vitamin B12 deficiency is diagnosed through blood testing.  However, many of the signs of B12 deficiency may be masked by other prevailing ailments, so it’s important to know the symptoms.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Mental confusion, “brain fog”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Painful numbness in hand and feet, “tingling” sensations
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Clumsiness, stumbling
  • Sore tongue
  • Altered taste perception
  • Eye twitches

Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency could result in severe nerve damage, early-onset dementia, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, and death.

Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency:

Painful Tingling in Hands and Feet- What’s Up with That?

Diabetics, Put On Your Walking Shoes


Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12

Association of Biochemical B12 Deficiency With Metformin Therapy and Vitamin B12 Supplements: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2006- PubMed, NCBI

Image credits, from top:

Jon McGovern, Wikipedia, lgringospain, Pink Sherbet Photography

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