Do you have days when it feels as though your brain is in a fog?
And what about mood swings or a lack of motivation that you can’t explain?
It could be due to a lack of B12, the energy vitamin. Who knew?
I didn’t, until I discovered that deficiency in this vitamin was causing a host of problems for me.
B12 is a much discussed vitamin in the vegan community, but it turns out it’s not just vegans who might not be meeting their vitamin B12 needs.
Somewhere close to two thirds of Americans have low vitamin B12 levels and it’s considered to be one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in the world.
Why should we care?
Lack of diminishment of this vitamin can have serious consequences on our overall health and wellbeing.
And let’s face it, we have one body, we have one life and we’d all like to be as full of health, vitality and wellbeing as possible in order to enjoy that one life. Right?
What’s vitamin B12 good for?
I asked that very question myself, after I learned that my B12 levels were far too low.
It turns out that it’s a genuine powerhouse micronutrient that our body needs for so many functions such as:
- Food absorption and proper digestion not to mention fat and carbohydrate metabolism – important if you’ve gained extra pounds that you can’t seem to shift.
- Decent circulation
- Adrenal hormone production
- A healthy immune and nervous system function
- Memory, mental clarity and ability to concentrate fully
- Mood regulation
- Physical and emotional energy
- Skin and hair problems
- Sleep challenges
Why do we have less of this vitamin than we need?
I’m not a physician or an expert, but I can tell you I experienced some of the conditions above owing to B12 deficiency because I suffered from acid reflux. A disease that afflicts a vast number of us.
More about why that can be a problem later!
Meanwhile, if you’re a coffee drinker, consuming more than 4 cups a day, if you’re over 50, if you use antacids, or been exposed to nitrous oxide (at your dentist for instance) you’re likely to be deficient in B12.
Add a slew of other reasons and it’s enough to know that it might be a pretty good idea, at your next physical, to have your doctor check to see if you could be one of the two thirds of us who are deficient in this incredibly important vitamin.
Why good digestion matters
Back to that digestive problem I was talking about.
Without a decent supply of stomach acid our body’s ability to absorb B12 from food, or supplements for that matter is greatly diminished.
And for those who have pretty much followed the standard American diet, the lining of the stomach gradually loses it’s ability to produce what’s needed for proper absorption of B12 plus for anyone over 50 it’s a pretty safe bet that you are not absorbing it at an optimal level.
If this isn’t you, please consider sharing this article with your nearest and dearest who are in this age bracket…you might just be saving them a world of hurt down the line.
My personal experience
My digestive system probably hadn’t been working for a while and my stomach lining had basically lost its ability to produce intrinsic factor, the vital element that binds to B12 allowing it to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Without it my reserve of B12 became seriously depleted and I experienced fatigue, brain fog, lack of motivation, hair becoming dry and brittle and sleep challenges.
My blood work showed a huge B12 deficiency.
It was good to know, and I was given B12 shots. You’ve heard of something being an instant shot in the arm? Well B12 was an instant shot in my thigh that virtually gave me more energy than I’d had for months.
It was like a little miracle.
And I learned later that because the B12 is important for the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout our body, it’s not hard to see that oxygenated blood supported my energy levels.
I wish I’d also known years ago that lack of sufficient B12 was possibly involved in the miserable migraine headaches I suffered for years. So if this is you, perhaps getting your B12 levels checked out wouldn’t be a bad idea.
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It seems like there’s always a but. And in this case it’s not such a big thing. It turns out that since vitamin B12 absorption can be hindered by anyone who has used medication to control stomach acid, or those who have impaired digestive abilities, taking a supplement won’t do the trick.
After all if your body could absorb the vitamin through your stomach as it was designed to, you wouldn’t be deficient!
Which leaves us needing a form of B12 that can be absorbed straight into our blood stream, bypassing our stomach entirely.
Hence B12 shots and if that’s not possible for you the next best delivery form is the sublingual variety, which are like tablets but they melt under the tongue and head straight into the bloodstream. The same is true for sprays and liquid drops.
Choose one that doesn’t add refined sugars or additives. There are plenty of organic, non-GMO or vegan brands available.
Personally I use the methylcobalamin and not cyanocobalamin. You might see it as methyl on the packaging. This is my choice because I don’t like the idea of deliberately putting any form of cyanide in my body! Plus it’s chemically made in a laboratory. Definitely not my first choice.
How much do you need and how much is safe?
There’s a lot of dosage varieties out there when it comes to vitamin B12. Ranging from 500 mcg (micrograms) all the way up to 5,000 mcg (micrograms) which are the ranges safely sold over the counter. Higher levels can be used under the orders of a doctor if your B12 is severely depleted. Which was why I was given the shots.
Ultimately B12 is vital for our health and wellbeing and the supplements are considered safe, and they are affordable per serving plus they’re pretty easy to find.
Find a good brand and it’ll make a great addition to an already well rounded and healthy diet.
Don’t ever be afraid to use high quality vitamin supplements when necessary. Take proactive steps in your health choices, but always remember to consult your doctor before adding anything to your diet, especially if you’re taking medications. We can never tell what might be counter-productive without medical advice.
And please remember, I’m not an expert, I’m simply sharing my own experiences and research on vitamin B12, just in case it helps you as much as it helped me.
Encourage one another.