According to latest research, vitamin B12 -rich foods like fish are influential in maintaining healthy brain mass, the loss of which is a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.
Why Vitamin B12?
You always knew that fish was “brain food,” but probably didn’t know why. The answer could be in vitamin B12, a nutrient that occurs naturally in foods like beef, salmon, clams, and cheese.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) helps to protect your nerve cells, supports DNA synthesis, and aids in the breaking down of homocysteine, a hormone linked with heart disease and stroke.
So, when people don’t get enough vitamin B12 in their diet, or are simply unable to digest vitamin B12 from foods, they begin the suffer debilitating symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, leading to nerve damage, loss of energy, and increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
- Constant fatigue
- Decreased short-term memory
- Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
- Difficulty concentrating
- Painful tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
- Difficulty walking
- Frequent clumsiness
- Sore, burning tongue
- Altered taste perception
- Tinnitus (ear ringing)
- Restless leg syndrome
B12 and Alzheimer’s disease
A 2011 study published in Neurology on senior citizens’ diet and Alzheimer’s disease risks found a direct correlation between vitamin consumption, including vitamin B12, and healthy cognitive skills, including memory, problem-solving, and reasoning.
They found that senior citizens who ate foods rich in vitamin B12, C, D, and E scored better in cognitive tests than their peers who didn’t sustain sufficient levels of vitamin B12.
Additionally, MRI brain scans confirmed that vitamin B12 directly affects brain health, as brain scans of senior citizens who had normal or elevated vitamin B12 levels revealed healthy brain mass, while elderly individuals who had poor vitamin B12 levels demonstrated much less brain volume, and in many cases brain shrinkage associated with onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Read more here: Here’s Your Brain on B12 Deficiency- Memory Loss and Aging
Where can I get vitamin B12?
Most people get plenty of vitamin B12 from eating a diet that includes lean beef and chicken, fresh seafood, cheese, yogurt, and eggs. Unless you follow a strict vegan diet, you probably consume enough vitamin B12 to avoid becoming deficient.
But not necessarily.
A staggering number of people don’t get enough vitamin B12, resulting in one of the most widespread nutritional deficiencies since rickets and scurvy.
And the cause has nothing to do with diet.
In fact, so many illnesses and lifestyle choices may interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, that the only way to be certain you’re in the clear is to take a blood screening for vitamin B12 levels.
Risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Family history of vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia
- History of autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Presence of intrinsic factor (IF) antibody
- Previous gastrointestinal surgery, including gastric bypass
- Chronic vomiting
- Damage to the stomach lining
- Usage of metformin for diabetes
- Usage of protein pump inhibitors (PPIs) for GERD
- Old age
If your vitamin B12 levels are low despite eating meat, fish, and chicken, then you most likely can’t digest vitamin B12 in the stomach. Your only alternative to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency is to deposit vitamin B12 directly into the blood stream.
Popular methods for non-dietary vitamin B12 supplementation are vitamin B12 shots and (less effective) sublingual vitamin B12 tablets.
Read more about B12 and the brain
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