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 causes pernicious anemia, which creates horrible symptoms like painful tingling in your hands and feet, numbness, chronic fatigue, memory loss, depression, and even chronic clumsiness. What’s really behind all these debilitating symptoms, you wonder? Deranged DNA…
You’re mad, I tell you- Mad!
Pernicious anemia (PA) tends to creep up on you, like a scary monster in a B movie. You might not even realize you have B12 deficiency until you start noticing weird symptoms. Your hands and feet fall asleep on you while you sit at your computer. It feels like thousands of fire ants are crawling up your legs. Sometimes, you could swear that your mouth was on fire, like you ate a red chili pepper.
Only you didn’t…
Then PA attacks your brain, causing brain fog. You struggle to find the right words in conversation, left hanging while you awkwardly try to remember what you were trying to say. You walk into a room and immediately forget what you came in for. You forget to buy things on your mental shopping list. You wake up feeling drugged, exhausted, even though you had plenty of sleep the night before.
If you didn’t have your name printed clearly for you on your driver’s license, you just might forget it…
Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disorder in which your body interferes with production of a very necessary protein- intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor is produced in your stomach, and you need it to digest vitamin B12 (cobalamin). Without intrinsic factor, your body cannot extract vitamin B12 from food sources like beef, chicken, fish, and eggs. Instead, the vitamin B12 just passes through your intestines, without ever entering the blood stream.
Say goodbye to B12…
DNA production goes awry
If pernicious anemia sounds frightening, it’s because it does wicked things to your body. You need vitamin B12 for many important bodily functions, like protecting the nervous system, enhancing cognitive development, and maintaining adequate supplies of energy.
Most importantly, your red blood cells need vitamin B12 for DNA synthesis. With pernicious anemia, DNA synthesis in the red blood cells comes to a standstill, while RNA synthesis keeps chugging along.
And then, things get really weird…
Franken-DNA is born
The result is microcytic anemia, a type of megaloblastic anemia causing enlarged red blood cells. Not only are your blood cells too big to function normally, but they are also deformed. Your poor large red blood cells remain trapped inside your bone marrow, unable to leave because they have grown enormous in size.
Remember Alice, trapped in the White Rabbit’s house? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
Hey, where’re all the red blood cells at?
Trapped in your bone marrow! And your body needs red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. But with vitamin B12 deficiency, very few red blood cells manage to escape their “prison” in your bones, because they are too big to exit. Your red blood cell levels go way down, and you start to feel tired, anxious, and wiry.
Managing macrocytic anemia is simple enough if you know what’s causing it. Pernicious anemia from low B12 levels is just one cause. Other causes of enlarged red blood cells are alcoholism and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), among others. With alcoholism, B12 deficiency symptoms can still be the underlying cause of macrocytic anemia.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated with vitamin B12 supplements. However, if your body can’t digest vitamin B12 because of lack of intrinsic factor, then you will have to use vitamin B12 supplements that bypass the digestive system and go directly into the bloodstream.
Examples of vitamin B12 supplementation used for pernicious anemia are routine B12 shots and sublingual B12 pills. The B12 shots require a doctor’s prescription, and can be painful, as they have to be inserted into thick muscular tissue. B12 pills are readily available over-the-counter (OTC). Many patients have reported a burning sensation while using sublingual B12 tablets that dissolve under the tongue.
Did you find this article helpful? Please share your opinion!
Have you noticed any of the symptoms described? If you know anybody who exhibits any of these symptoms, please share this information with them.
Read more about pernicious anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency
If you feel tired all the time, then join the club- the vitamin B12 deficiency club, which is becoming the top cause of chronic fatigue allover. Vitamin B12 is crucial for brainhealth, and if you don’t get enough, you run the risk of suffering the red blood cell disease pernicious anemia- one of many vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.
Why am I so tired all the time?
Fatigue causes you to feel sluggish, slow, confused, and constantly in a “brain fog.” You’re exhausted before you even step out of bed, and all day at work. On the drive home, you catch yourself several times nodding off at the wheel. By the time you’re ready to pack it up and call it a day, you’re almost too tired to change into your pajamas, sorely tempted to climb into bed, clothes, shoes, and all.
Why are you so tired all the time? Many conditions can cause chronic fatigue, and most of them begin with vitamin B12 deficiency.
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is of the vitamin B complex vitamins, and occurs in foods like beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. Some of the best sources of vitamin B12 are organ meat, lean turkey, crabmeat, halibut, and yogurt. Normally, sufficient amounts of B12 are stored in your liver, unless you are prone to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Tiredness is at the core of the most common symptoms of B12 deficiency: depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety, short-term memory loss, disorientation, trouble concentrating or remembering words, painful numbness or tingling in hands and feet, loss of balance while walking, muscular feebleness, and insomnia.
Here are some illnesses and chronic conditions linked to vitamin B12 deficiency:
Sometimes, pernicious anemia is the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 helps your body produce healthy red blood cells needed to carry oxygen. With pernicious anemia, you have a shortage of vitamin B12, which leads to a shortage of red blood cells, which in turn causes a severe reduction in oxygen throughout your body, including the brain.
The resulting effect is overwhelming tiredness, lightheadedness, and an inability to concentrate.
Scientists found that a high correlation exists between vitamin B12 deficiency and sufferers of fibromyalgia, an autoimmune disease that causes symptoms such as severe pain, skin sensitivity, sleep problems, and chronic fatigue.
People with gastrointestinal disorders such as IBD- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis- have extreme difficulty absorbing vitamin B12. Symptoms such as sluggishness, diarrhea, and unexplainable exhaustion might be confused with IBD symptoms; in fact, vitamin B12 deficiency is a likely culprit that often is overlooked.
Vitamin B12 supports cognitive functioning- low B12 levels are common among people suffering from severe psychological disorders, including schizophrenia, clinical depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). Tiredness is one of many complaints of people suffering from depression and anxiety.
Vitamin B12 helps your body regulate the amount of homocysteine in your blood. High levels of plasma homocysteine are strongly associated with heart disease and stroke. By breaking down homocysteine, and thus reducing the risk for heart disease or stroke, vitamin B12 promotes cardiovascular health.
Treatment for B12 deficiency
A blood test is necessary in order to diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency. Not all doctors screen for low B12, so you will need to request a plasma vitamin B12 test. If necessary, your doctor will prescribe B12 injections or sublingual B12.
Being tired all the time is a symptom of B12 deficiency, but it can also signal hypothyroidism (low thyroid), a thyroid disease that occurs with lowB12 levels. Because hypothyroid symptoms are similar, vitamin B12 deficiency often goes undetected.
B12 deficiency causes fatigue, depression, and other mood disorders often associated with an underactive thyroid. If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroiditis, then it’s also important also to recognize the symptoms of B12 deficiency, and know whether you might require more vitamin B12 (cobalamin).
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) that occurs in the thyroid gland, causing inflammation, and reducing its ability to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. Hashimoto’s disease is one example of thyroiditis that causes low thyroid levels.
Sometimes, thyroid treatment for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), such as radioactive iodine or surgery, can backfire, causing underactive thyroid symptoms.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that is responsible for making red blood cells, controlling DNA synthesis, regulating the nervous system, and improving cognitive functioning. Without proper levels of vitamin B12, you may suffer neurological damage, dementia, or heart attack resulting from elevated homocysteine levels.
In a study conducted in Sapir Medical Center, Kfar Saba, Israel, patients with autoimmune thyroid disease received blood screening for vitamin B12 deficiency. Researchers noted a significantly high percentage of people with AITD who also had vitamin B12 deficiency caused by pernicious anemia, a disease that inhibits proper absorption of vitamin B12.
Another study conducted in Pakistan by Aga Khan University produced similar results; namely, a 40% prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency among patients with hypothyroidism.
If you are a patient of hypothyroidism, then physicians strongly recommend routine blood testing for vitamin B12 deficiency, regardless of thyroid hormone levels.
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.
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.
When it comes to nerves and nerve conduction vitamin B-12 plays a special role. One of the reasons the body needs this nutrient is to manufacture myelin, the fatty sheath that wraps around nerve fibers, insulating them and allowing them to conduct their electrical impulses at a better pace. A vitamin B12 deficiency can also raise blood levels of homo-cysteine, an amino acid that is thought to be toxic to nerves, which can cause subsequent ringing in the ears. Vitamin B12 in turn sheathes ear nerves and may help prevent tinnitus emergence and its symptoms.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with chronic tinnitus,” says Dr. Attias. “Long-term exposure to noise depletes the body’s levels of B12 and so makes the ears more vulnerable to noise-induced damage.” If you have tinnitus, and especially if you also have memory problems, ask your doctor to check your blood level of vitamin B12.
Research from the Institute for Noise Hazards Research and Evoked Potentials Laboratory at Chaim-Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan and from Tel Aviv University, both in Israel, looked at a group of 385 people with tinnitus and found that 36 to 47 percent suffered from vitamin B12 deficiency. All of the people low in B12 received injections of 1,000 micrograms weekly for four to six months. At the end of that time, their hearing and tinnitus were evaluated. Fifty-four percent reported improvement in their tinnitus, and approximately one-fourth reported reductions in the measured loudness of their tinnitus.
Most people get enough vitamin B12 from foods but often an individual is unable to absorb the B12 in their GI tract, which will eventually cause a deficiency. Strict vegetarians, who eat no meats, dairy products or eggs, are also at risk for deficiency, since B12 comes only from animal products. If your doctor determines that you have issues with absorbing B12the vitamin you will need to supplement it. Those with an absorption problem will need to opt for either injections of B12 by your doctor or sublingual B12 pills from your pharmacist (studies show this method can also be poor in terms of absorption).