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Posts Tagged ‘vegan diet and vitamin B12 deficiency’

Vitamin B12 Deficiency in the Millions

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

 

 

Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs when your blood levels of vitamin B12 drop to an unhealthy low. If you have vitamin B12 deficiency for an extended period, then you are risk for pernicious anemia. Today, experts believe that vitamin B12 deficiency is an overlooked epidemic striking millions of US citizens.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency in the Millions

How common is B12 deficiency?

In 2000, the United States Department of Agriculture stated that nearly two-fifths of all US citizens had some form of vitamin B12 deficiency. Their source of information was the Framingham Offspring Study, which found vitamin B12 deficiency in nearly 40% of 3,000 Framingham, Massachusetts residents between the ages of 26 and 83.

“I think there is a lot of undetected vitamin B12 deficiency out there,” said study author Katherine Tucker.

25 Medications that Cause Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Today, reports indicate that close to 47 million Americans suffer from middle-low to nearly depleted levels of vitamin B12.

Conflicting reports

So why do government reports such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey claim that the prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency among Americans is much lower- closer to 3% with severely low levels, and 20% with borderline B12 anemia?

Vitamin B12 deficiency is often misdiagnosed and ignored by doctors for many reasons:

First, we’ve been led to believe that pernicious anemia is no longer a fatal or even detrimental disease, so it has essentially fallen off the radar. Many doctors no longer test for vitamin B12 deficiency in their patients, because they believe that it is a non-issue.

Second, standards for detecting vitamin B12 deficiency are remarkably low and inefficient. Serum vitamin B12 screenings only look for lethally-low levels of vitamin B12, which occur only in a rare percentage of people with pernicious anemia. Middle-low ranges of vitamin B12 depletion that nevertheless cause debilitating symptoms are often ignored.

Here’s Your Brain on B12 Deficiency- Memory Loss and Aging

Finally, even people with “normal” levels of vitamin B12 in their system may exhibit symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, as the blood screenings don’t separate active vitamin B12 from stored vitamin B12. This is an important yet overlooked distinction, as only active molecules of vitamin B12 are able to carry out the biochemical functions necessary for survival.

B12 deficiency in vegetarians

According to a recent report on vitamin B12 deficiency among vegetarians, vegans are at a higher risk for developing anemia from low vitamin B12 levels compared with vegetarians, and people who follow a vegetarian diet from birth are more at risk than those who made a change to their diet in adulthood.

In the scientific study conducted by the Department of Nutrition Science, the risk for vitamin B12 deficiency among vegetarians is as follows:

  • Pregnant women- 62%
  • Children- 25-86%
  • Teens- 21-41%
  • Elderly 11-90%

What about Vegan Vitamin B12?

Signs of B12 deficiency

Some of the early signs of vitamin B12 deficiency are often mistaken for chronic depression, anxiety, or age-related dementia. Since vitamin B12 is needed for maintaining myelin, some of the symptoms of low vitamin B12 mimic those of multiple sclerosis.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 include:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Memory loss
  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness
  • Poor concentration
  • Decreased motor control
  • “Pins and needles” in hands and feet
  • Muscle spasms, twitches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sore, burning red tongue

Do you currently get prescriptions for vitamin B12 shots ? If so, do you feel that you don’t get enough to prevent symptoms between doses?

Also read:

What Causes Vitamin B12 Malabsorption?

Top Ten Signs of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency a Real Illness?

Image courtesy of xedos4

Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Can it be Genetic?

Monday, October 28th, 2013

 

 

Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur because of diet, medication, or gastrointestinal surgery, but it can also be hereditary. Genetic pernicious anemia is a cause of vitamin B12 deficiency that sometimes slips right off the radar, yet can produce debilitating symptoms of extreme fatigue, disorientation, muscular pain, and depression.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Can it be Genetic?

What causes vitamin B12 deficiency?

Listed are just some of the most common causes of vitamin B12 deficiency. For a more complete list, see vitamin B12 deficiency causes.

Diet

Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal-based food sources such as fish, chicken, beef, and dairy products. The foods that have the most vitamin B12 are shellfish and organ meats. So if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, then it’s vitally important to supplement with vitamin B12 in order to prevent becoming anemic.

Medications

Certain medications can inhibit your ability to digest vitamin B12 from foods; these include PPIs for acid reflux and heartburn, metformin for diabetes, and certain antidepressants.

25 Medications that Cause Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Surgery

Also, if you’ve ever had bariatric surgery (gastric bypass) or gastrointestinal surgery for Crohn’s disease, then you are required to take lifelong vitamin B12 supplements.

Autoimmune diseases

The more autoimmune disorders you have, the likelier your chances of developing new ailments caused by a weak immune system. Vitamin B12 deficiency from pernicious anemia is one such autoimmune disease that can occur alone or along with other genetic autoimmune dysfunctions.

Genetic pernicious anemia is caused by a lack of intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme needed to absorb vitamin B12.

Pernicious anemia can occur as an autoimmune disorder, or it can develop as a comorbid condition to other autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or celiac disease.

If you eat a healthy diet of lean meats and seafood, and you don’t fall into any of the above-mentioned categories, then your cause of vitamin B12 deficiency may be genetic.

Is vitamin B12 deficiency serious?

Vitamin B12 is crucial for many important biochemical responses throughout your body. Vitamin B12 aids in red blood cell formation, and also sustains healthy neurological functioning.

Vitamin B12 boosts cellular energy, supports a good metabolism, and helps to regulate levels of homocysteine, a hormone linked with heart attack and stroke.

Untreated, long-term vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia can result severe irreversible damage to your nervous system, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, cognitive impairments, and sometimes, death.

Getting tested

Off the bat, your family medical history can tell you if you’re prone to vitamin B12 deficiency from genetic pernicious anemia. If anybody in your family suffers from pernicious anemia or any autoimmune disorder, then your chances of developing severe vitamin B12 deficiency are higher than normal.

You can test for vitamin B12 deficiency easily with one blood test, but the results are not always accurate. In diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency, your doctor should pay attention to the symptoms you’re experiencing and how well you’re responding to vitamin B12 supplementation.

Please tell us…

Do you or your parents have vitamin B12 deficiency? Have you found a genetic link to that or other autoimmune disorders?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.
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Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency a Genetic Mutation?

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

 

 

About half the population has a gene mutation making them prone to genetic vitamin B12 deficiency, according to researchers, which would explain the growing epidemic of pernicious anemia from untreated vitamin B12 deficiency. About 40 percent of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have dangerously low levels of vitamin B12, and many don’t even realize it until the debilitating symptoms begin to set in. Here are the facts on genetic vitamin B12 deficiency.

Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency a Genetic Mutation?

The MTHFR gene and B12 Deficiency

Everybody has two MTHFR genes, one from each parent. These genes are necessary for efficiently converting vitamin B12 to a usable form, and in effect also maintaining healthy homocysteine levels.

If you have defective MTHFR genes, then you’re not able to convert cobalamin to usable vitamin B12 as effectively as somebody without the gene defect.

However, nearly 50% of all people have a defected MTHFR gene from one parent, and 10% have mutated MTHFR genes from both parents, making them more likely to suffer genetic vitamin B12 deficiency, and also elevated levels of homocysteine, which has been linked to hardening of the arteries and increased risk for heart attack.

Causes for Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 absorption is a complicated process, and there are many things that can go wrong. Certain health conditions, medications, invasive surgeries, dietary restrictions, and yes- genetics- can impede your ability to digest vitamin B12 properly from food sources and vitamin supplements.

Common causes of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Vegan and vegetarian dieting
  • Family history for autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and fibromyalgia
  • Family history for pernicious anemia
  • MTHFR gene mutations
  • Gastrointestinal infections or illnesses, such as leaky gut, Crohn’s, celiac, and Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Bariatric surgeries or ilium removal for Crohn’s treatment
  • Medications such as metformin for diabetes and PPIs for GERD
  • Old age
  • Alcoholism

Find out if you have genetic B12 Deficiency

There are several ways of finding out if you have vitamin B12 deficiency, including plasma vitamin B12 level screening, complete blood count (CBC) and homocysteine blood screening for Hyperhomocysteinemia.

As for testing for the MTHFR gene mutation, there are no official guidelines as to who should be tested. So unless you request a test for genetic vitamin B12 deficiency from a doctor who is able to comply, then your best bet is to stay on top of vitamin B12 and homocysteine levels, and supplement daily with vitamin B12, folate and vitamin B6.

Treating vitamin B12 Deficiency

If you’re tested with genetic vitamin B12 deficiency caused by a gene mutation, or any form of vitamin B12 deficiency that doesn’t stem from diet, then it’s absolutely essential to supplement with vitamin B12 in order to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency and other severe malnutrition. Diet alone will not provide you the amount of vitamin B12 needed in order to prevent pernicious anemia.

Please tell us…

Would you consider getting tested for genetic vitamin B12 deficiency? Do one or both parents also have vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

Like this? Read more:

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Children and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

There are children who are brain-damaged as a result of a vitamin B12 deficiency.  Some of these children are born with an inability to properly metabolize B12, and this condition was not detected at birth.  In other cases, they were born to mothers who are overly concerned with their health, who exclude animal proteins from their diets.  Such diets are known as vegetarian or vegan.

Women today are concerned with unnecessary hormone injections in cows, chickens and pigs.  The implications of these hormones on humans are not yet known.  In addition, documentaries have reported that most farm animals are mistreated and bombarded with antibiotics, then sold to grocery stores for consumers.  Who would want to knowingly ingest such an animal and risk developing an antibiotic resistant illness?

Our generation is also well aware of the medical literature that reports higher mortality rates due to obesity, which recommends the reduction of fat intake.  For all these reasons, it would seem that the only way to be healthy is to eliminate animal proteins from our diets, right?

The answer is: wrong.  Animal protein is the only natural source for vitamin B12.  A woman who eats a strict vegan diet has no way of obtaining vitamin B12, unless she chooses to supplement.  This puts her at grave risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency.

A mother who does not consume any animal products is liable to put her baby in grave danger, especially if she chooses to nurse exclusively.  She can eat as many healthy fruits, vegetables and nuts as she can, and still be deficient in vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for nerve cell formation.  A vitamin B12 deficiency in a growing baby can cause neurological problems, developmental delays, and mental retardation.

In one case, a baby of a vegetarian mother ceased talking and stopped growing at eight months old.  Fortunately, a few months later one doctor diagnosed the vitamin B12 deficiency before permanent brain damage could set in.

Studies demonstrate that 80% of all people who are on vegan diets for at least two years have low levels of plasma B12.  Therefore, doctors need to test pregnant women for a vitamin B12 deficiency in order to protect unborn children from harm.

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