Vitamin B-12:  Why This Nutrient is Crucial

Vitamin B-12: Why This Nutrient is Crucial

Posted by Lori Shemek; September 9, 2013

What is the likelihood you are not getting enough vitamin B-12 in your diet? Highly likely. Studies show that 1 in 4 adults are deficient in vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 is a difficult vitamin to absorb (unless it is a quality supplement or by injections) and if you are like most individuals. Your colon isn’t in the healthiest shape either, making it very difficult for your body to receive the benefits of this critical nutrient.

Your body requires vitamin B-12 for:

  • Energy production,
  • Red blood cell formation: Vitamin B12 is essential for the manufacture of red blood cells; a deficiency leads to anemia
  • DNA replication – the generation of new healthy cells – key to life
  • Myelin formation – Myelin is insulation that protects your nerve endings and allows them to communicate with one another.
  • Formation of new nerve fibers
  • Protects the heart
  • Improves circulation
  • Regenerates mucous membranes  

What are the symptoms of Vitamin B-12 deficiency? Anemia, weakness, numbness and tingling, fatigue, dizziness, swelling and irritation of the mouth and tongue, and irritability. Deficiency symptoms often only become evident after many years, once the liver supply becomes exhausted. Symptoms manifest themselves by a disruption in the formation of blood cells. An increase in your homocysteine level as well as a low hemoglobin level can be caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency. Other symptoms may include susceptibility to infections, depression, anxiety as well as weariness and tingling in hands and feet. Interesting note: your liver can store an approximate 12-year supply of this water-soluble vitamin.

Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal foods (and fortified cereals), so vegans are vulnerable to deficiency. Another critical cause of deficiency is the way in which vitamin B-12 is absorbed…or not. It must be escorted by a protein called intrinsic factor, produced by cells of the stomach. Many disorders of the stomach create an environment where absorption is challenging at best. Many medications such as antacids or metformin can also interfere with intrinsic factor production, causing a deficiency. Remember, Intrinsic Factor is key to getting this vitamin into the bloodstream.

Some people don’t consume enough vitamin B12 to meet their needs, while others can’t absorb enough, no matter how much they take in. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older people. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can be sneaky and harmful so it is best to ‘B Proactive’

~Lori Shemek