Are you Tired of Not Feeling Well? The cause could be as simple as a Vitamin Deficiency. Here we are speaking specifically about the importance of the B12 Vitamin. Read more…
Vitamin B12 deficiency is well-known in medicine for its causes and effects on health. But, the prevalence of this vitamin deficiency has often been overlooked in its severity and impact. Vitamin B12 deficiency may be much more prevalent than the general population realized. Some studies suggest that 40 percent of people have plasma B12 levels that are below the normal range. Having a low B12 in that range could cause people to experience neurological symptoms due to nutrient deficiency. Some symptoms of B12 deficiency include cognitive decline, dementia and memory loss.
Vitamin B12 works with folate to synthesize DNA and red blood cells. It also assists in development of the myelin sheath protecting the nerves and assisting in conduction of nerve impulses. Myelin protects the nervous system and allows the system to continue sending messages via electrical impulse. Vitamin B12 deficiency is found in cases of anemia, and conversely, anemia is a result of a longstanding B12 deficiency.
Signs and symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, weakness, neurological issues, psychiatric problems and memory loss.
Many signs and symptoms of B12 deficiency mimic other serious illnesses, so it is essential to have B12 levels checked to determine levels. Other common symptoms include:
- Confusion, brain fog and memory problems
- Premature aging
- Cognitive impairment and decline
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
Vitamin B12 deficiency is common because a deficiency can occur even in people who consume enough B12 containing animal products. Even people following a meat-centered Paleo diet may experience B12 deficiency. Absorption of B12 is a complex multi-step process that can be affected by gut health and can be impaired by gut dysbiosis, leaky gut and inflammation. Low stomach acid can also inhibit absorption, as can alcohol and some medications including proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs). Exposure to citrus oxide can also contribute to B12 deficiency by inhibiting absorption.
Certain populations are more prone to deficient B12 including:
- Vegetarians and vegans
- People 60 years of age or older
- People on PPIs and/or diabetes drugs
- People with Crohn’s, colitis, celiac or IBS
- Women with a health history of infertility or miscarriage.
Vitamin B12 is found in animal products and contains a trace element of cobalamin. This element is produced in the gut of animals and cannot be obtained from plants or sunlight. A common myth and misunderstanding is that vegetarian foods like seaweed, fermented soy, spirulina and brewer’s yeast contain vitamin B12, however these plant sources contain B12 analogs that actually block the intake of B12.
Some studies suggest that up to 50 percent of long-term vegetarians and 80 percent of long term vegans are deficient in vitamin B12. Children are very impacted by B12 deficiency and should be given supplementation to fulfill their dietary needs.