by Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
Have you been diagnosed with a mental health or neurological condition? Are you having difficulty conceiving? You could be deficient in vitamin B12. According to statistics, 40 percent of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have serum B12 levels below the normal range. This often results in a host of physiological and mental health symptoms that can be difficult to pin down.
What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Since this nutrient is found in animal products alone, vegetarians and vegans are at a considerably high risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. For example, in India, 80 percent of people are deficient in this essential nutrient.[1. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/1/3.short]
Gastrointestinal disorders that result in malabsorption of nutrients (celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, etc.), as well as hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), Helicobacter Pylori infection, pancreatic dysfunction, bacterial overgrowth or parasitic infection can all cause a deficiency in vitamin B12.
Medications such as proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec and Nexium , as well as the older class of H-2 receptor antagonists like Zantac and Tagamet, reduce your stomach acid to a level that will not allow you to absorb B12 from your food.
Metformin has the ability to inhibit your B12 absorption, especially at higher doses.
Eating disorders, alcoholism, autoimmune disease (including HIV), and weight-loss surgery can also contribute to this vitamin deficiency.
The leading cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is food-cobalamin malabsorption syndrome. This condition results when your stomach lining loses its ability to produce intrinsic factor. This protein binds to B12 and allows your body to absorb it into your bloodstream at the end of your small intestine.
No wonder it’s so common!
Vitamin B12 Deficiency is Harmful to Your Nervous System
Vitamin B12 is a co-factor in myelin formation. Myelin is the protective sheath of insulation in your brain and nervous system. Without adequate levels of vitamin B12, this protective layer begins to deteriorate.
Over time, this deterioration can cause a malfunction of your nervous system, and is often associated with symptoms such as:
- Cognitive impairment
- Learning disabilities
- Developmental disorders
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Mental illness (anxiety, depression)
Another common condition caused by B12 deficiency is megalobalstic anemia.
Additional Health Problems Associated with Vitamin B12 Deficiency
- Male and Female Infertility
If your vitamin B12 levels are lower than they should be, you may have trouble conceiving. For men, vitamin B12 deficiency can lower sperm count and motility. For women, it can interfere with proper ovulation, hormone secretion, and blood circulation.
- Low Blood Pressure
Since vitamin B12 is critical to proper nervous system function and blood pressure control, a deficiency may result in hypotension.
A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a malfunction in nerve and muscle function, which could result in both urinary and bowel incontinence.
Vitamin B-12 Deficiency is Commonly Under-Diagnosed
Vitamin B12 deficiency is under-diagnosed because many physicians do not test for it. Even when they do, the so-called “normal” range for most labs is between 180-914 ng/L. In my opinion, this range is too wide.
Many patients are told their B12 level is fine when it is 200-300 ng/L. When I see a level in this range, I consider the patient to be low/deficient, and raise the level to 700-900 ng/L, sometimes higher. Virtually all patients will feel much better with a level in the higher range.
Your serum B-12 level can easily be checked. I recommend the Vitamin B12 test from Direct Labs. Direct Labs offer many testing packages at a greatly reduced cost. They have partnered with LabCorp, so you are able to have your testing at a location close to you.
Any testing you request does not require a doctor’s order, and the results are sent directly to you. You may also have a copy of the test results forwarded to the doctor of your choice.
How to Treat Vitamin B12 Deficiency Naturally
Foods that are high in vitamin B12 include eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk, beef, chicken, pork, and seafood. For optimum health benefits, these foods should be organic or wild-caught whenever possible.
- High-Quality Supplement
For my patients with vitamin B12 deficiency, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Foundation Vitamin Formula as it offers 1,000 mcg. of professional grade methylcobalamin B12 as well as other healing nutrients designed to work synergistically to put your body and mind back in balance.
For children, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Children’s Foundation Vitamins. This formula contains 25 mcg. of professional grade methlycobalamin B12, as well as a perfect balance of the spectrum of vitamins and minerals a growing body needs.
A simple blood test, some dietary changes, and a high-quality nutritional supplement may be all you need to reverse the effects of vitamin B12 deficiency and start feeling better than you have in a long time.
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