The Energy Vitamin

I found an interesting site the other day, I don’t how I found it or what I was looking for but it sparked a certain level of curiosity in me. What was the spark? Simply put, a photo of a finger nail. I looked at this photo and saw something very familiar, my fingernail, and started to delve in to a possible B-12 deficiency.

A deficiency of Vitamin B12 primarily causes anemia  which renders the body unable to make sufficient quantities of normal red blood cells. Severe cases can lead to permanent nervous system problems. The vitamin B12 deficiency can result from absorption problems, insufficient dietary intake, certain medications (e.g. Metformin which may negatively impact your B12 levels but has recently been linked to the successful treatment of NAFLD according to Life Extension Foundation)  inherited conditions (e.g. transcobalamin deficiency) and certain chronic parasitic intestinal infestations.

What are the symptoms of low levels of B12? They are numerous but Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to many disorders and complication including anemia, ataxia,  a high MCV reading on your blood tests, depression, diarrhea, gastritis, headache, hypotension, inability to be optimally treated with thyroid drugs, peripheral neuropathy and, if the symptoms are ignored too long, dementia.

I find the last one most disturbing because my mother died of old age but her last years were spent in a world all her own and while she was happy I would be quite content to avoid ever experiencing that particular state of mind. Mom’s digestive issues over the years were infamous and blamed on everything from too much angst to medication for dementia. Much of her family inherited her gift of gas and diarrhea and looking back on it (I know hindsight is always 20/20) I have no doubt that her dementia, if not caused by, was exacerbated by her chronic tummy troubles and her untested B12 levels.

What can I do? First thing I would do is go to Econolabs and order a B12 test. For a day or so before you have a blood draw do not take any B12, in fact, I would avoid all B vitamins just to be sure you get an accurate result. Once you have your results back from the lab (mine were back the day after my blood draw) you need to interpret them not just accept what your doctor might say or what the lab labels “high” or “low”.

The acceptable range for B12 is from 211-946 pg/ml at Econolabs but if your levels are at 550 or below know that some European countries and Japan find that level unacceptable because they see a direct link between numbers that low and dementia. In those countries if your levels are at or below 500-550 pg/ml you will be prescribed B12 injections until your levels come up and then you will be on B12 supplements. According to my RT3 expert Val you really want your levels to be around 940-1000 pg/ml.

If your levels are low, as in less than 211 pg/ml it would behoove you to contact your health care provider and ask them if they are concerned about your B12 levels. If they aren’t concerned run don’t walk to another health care provider. If they are concerned ask them if they are willing to prescribe B12 injections; with levels that low that would be your best option. If your levels are borderline low, mine are at 640 pg/ml which seems too close to the level at which Europeans are seeing cognitive damage for comfort, or not close to the upper end of the range start supplementing on a daily basis.  I know I have, I am taking one Active B12 by Country Life every other day and one Methyl B-12 by Jarrow the other days.

There are two forms of B12 that are most readily absorbed by your body if you have digestive issues or absorption problems, Adenocylcobalamin or Dibencozide and Methylcobalamin.

Two of the most absorbable forms of B12

Whichever brand you buy of the two most readily absorbed types of B12 make sure it is sublingual. The reason being if you have a B12 deficiency you undoubtedly have digestive issues (or you are a vegetarian/vegan), so taking it under your tongue will guarantee satisfactory uptake and you will not run it through your challenged digestive system depositing it in your toilet bowl instead of  putting it to work in your body.

Can’t I eat right and get my B12 that way? It is nice to think a person could do this but our soil is so depleted these days that we are getting very little from our food, very few minerals and vitamins. Let’s say you raise your own food on soil that is well cared for and is still mineral rich, you will get much of what you need by eating healthy foods and juicing loads of vegetables will take you down the right path for sure. However, if you have thyroid disease and any host of other health challenges that cause digestive issues you do not absorb the goodness from your food and you will have to supplement, there really is no other way.

Dr. Mercola writes “Vitamin B12 is known as the “energy vitamin,” and it is essential for many critical functions in your body, including energy production, supporting your immune system, and helping to regulate the formation of red blood cells”. (Dr. Mercola sells a B12 spray but it is cyanocobalamin and I have asked why they sell the least well absorbed form of B12 and never received a good answer, so while I have linked you to a good article on the subject of vitamin B12 I do not endorse the use of his sublingual spray if you have any health related issues like thyroid disease and any autoimmune diseases.) We all need energy in our rag tag world and we all need to feed our bodies what it needs, so if taking B12 supplements has the potential to keep you energetic and cognitively astute I ask you “Why not?” Really, why not take B12? It can’t hurt and it really might help.

I hope you all have a lovely and happy Thanksgiving,
Kris

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