You’ve probably heard that Vitamin B12 is important for our health, but do you know why?
This essential nutrient is responsible for a wide range of functions in the body, from keeping our energy levels up to maintaining healthy DNA. A deficiency in Vitamin B12 can lead to some very severe health problems, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what Vitamin B12 does, how common deficiencies are, and ways to get more of this vital nutrient into your diet.
Deficiencies in B12 can lead to fatigue, brain fog, hormone imbalance, depression, physical disability and even death!
Vitamin B12 is essential for the proper function of our nervous system. It helps to keep our energy levels up and aids in the production of red blood cells. B12 is also involved in the synthesis of DNA, which makes it critically important for cell growth and development. Deficiencies in B12 can lead to fatigue, brain fog, hormone imbalance, anemia, depression, physical disability and even death!
Vitamin B12 deficiencies are becoming more prevalent, and they are also much more common in certain groups of people such as vegans and vegetarians. The reason they are at a higher risk for B12 deficiency is because this vital nutrient is found only in animal products. Elderly people are also at an increased risk, as our bodies absorb less B12 as we age.
How do we know if we are B12 deficient?
Due to the vast array of symptoms that B12 deficiency can exhibit, making the connection can be difficult at first. Some people will have unexplained fatigue and weakness, or they may start to experience mental health issues that they never have previously. Sometimes it will represent as anemia, where the red blood cell count becomes very low which prevents enough oxygen form reaching the organs and other parts of the body. It’s important to take symptoms seriously and check if there is a B12 deficiency.
How can we test for B12 deficiency?
The most common test for B12 is the Serum B12 test which will essentially tell you how much B12 is within your blood stream. However, this test alone is not enough to establish or rule out a deficiency if symptoms are present. The serum B12 test only tells you how much B12 is in your serum, not if the B12 is being absorbed and utilized by the body, which is far more important.
The best way to know for sure if you have a B12 deficiency is to ask your doctor to test for both Methylmalonic Acid (MMA) and Homocysteine. If either one or both of these tests are high, this is a strong indication of a functional deficiency in B12 and you may have pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is the autoimmune form of B12 deficiency and means the person is not effectively absorbing B12.
This is generally due to a lack of Intrinsic Factor which is a protein in the stomach that makes it possible to absorb B12 effectively. In these cases, a person will require B12 injections as their body does not have enough Intrinsic Factor to sufficiently absorb and utilize the B12 that they are consuming through their diet or supplements.
So now that we know a little more about what B12 is and why it’s so important, let’s talk about how to get enough of this vital nutrient. The best way to get Vitamin B12 is through animal products such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you can still get B12 through injections or supplementation, but if you have any of the symptoms of B12 deficiency, it is best to consult with a doctor or holistic medical professional who can properly test for this.
B12 is critical to our overall health and deficiencies can lead to severe disease if left untreated. The good news is that B12 is usually easy to get through diet or supplementation, so help spread the word!