Vitamins and minerals.
There are so many of them, and also many supplements available.
What do they all do?
Are you getting enough?
Do you need vitamin therapy to ensure your daily needs are being met?
You probably know that citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, and sunlight can help the body produce vitamin D.
But what about the others?
Today we’re going to look at vitamin B12, its sources, how it helps your body and what happens if you don’t get enough.
What Is Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is important for the development of DNA and red blood cells in your body.
It also has important roles in the functioning of the nervous system and production of bone marrow.
This vitamin is produced in the body by the large intestine, however most of this is passed before it can be absorbed by the body, as absorption occurs in the small intestine, therefore it is essential to get this vitamin through diet or supplementation.
Due to the importance of vitamin B12 in the development of the body, it is especially vital for young children to get sufficient amounts of it in their diet.
This means for new moms who are breastfeeding, it is important to get vitamin B12 in their diets.
Are There Different Types Of B12?
There are 4 different variants of B12.
Cyanocobalamin is the form is commonly used in vitamin B12 fortified foods and vitamins, as it is not sensitive to oxidation.
Hydroxocobalamin is not normally present in the human body, as it is produced by bacteria.
This form of B12 can be used as an antidote to cyanide poisoning.
Adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin occur naturally in the body. Reserves of adenosylcobalamin are stored in the liver and converted to methylcobalamin as required.
Dietary Sources Of Vitamin B12
Natural dietary sources of B12 include dairy, eggs, fish, meat and poultry.
The vitamin is stored in the liver and muscles of animals and is passed along to humans when we consume these foods.
Eggs have the lowest bioavailability of these sources for humans, at less than 9%, where the bioavailability for humans from fish, meat and poultry ranges from 40% to 60%.
Insects are also a good source – so if you’ve been looking for a reason to try the cricket flour some grocery stores are carrying now, this might be a good one.
If you are vegetarian or vegan and not consuming these foods, you can also find foods which have been fortified with B12 – just check the packaging.
Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
Are you worried you may be at risk of B12 deficiency?
Here are some of the factors to watch for:
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Vision loss
- Memory loss
If you are experiencing and of these symptoms, and you suspect you might not be getting enough B12 from your diet, talk to your doctor about having bloodwork done to test for a B12 deficiency.
Risk Factors For B12 Deficiency
Diseases affecting how your body absorbs nutrients from good can put you at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency, since it’s absorbed in the small intestine.
Also, the stomach produces a molecule called Intrinsic factor, which binds to dietary B12 and carries it to the small intestine for absorption.
Intrinsic factor is secreted by the stomach in the presence of stomach acid, so any disease or condition which affects the stomach and small intestine can affect the absorption of B12.
These includes gastritis, Crohn’s, colitis and immune system disorders such as Grave’s disease.
A vegan diet can also put you at risk, since most of the sources of vitamin B12 are found in animals.
If you’re a vegan, adding B12 supplements to your diet is a smart idea.
Treatments For Vitamin B12 Deficiency
If you have a condition which limits your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12, dietary sources, or taking supplements may not be your best option, as the absorption issue will still exist.
Another option to consider are B12 injections.
Look for B12 as hydroxycobalamin or methylcobalamin, as these forms are the most easily absorbed by the body.
This is a quick and efficient way to boost B12 levels if blood work has determined them to be low or insufficient.
Because B12 is water-soluble and eliminated by the body in urine, it will last in the body up to a week, so multiple injections (over time) may be required.
Contact Annex Naturopathic
Are you worried you may be suffering from a B12 deficiency?
Feeling tired and weak, or dealing with other symptoms?
Are you on a vegan or vegetarian diet, and want to act before deficiency becomes an issue?
Contact Annex Naturopathic today.
Our doctors at Annex Naturopathic provide preservative-free B12 in either hydroxy or methylcobalamin forms.
We will listen to your concerns and work with you to create a treatment plan that works for you.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND