One of the pitfalls of
pursuing a healthy diet is that we are sometimes blind to nutrients we may be
missing. And in the world of healthy eating, one of the most common nutrient
deficiencies involves vitamin B-12, a crucial nutrient for nerve health
and the construction of red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency is especially common among vegetarians and vegans,
but it’s also surprisingly common in meat eaters, too. Why? Because vitamin
B-12 can only be absorbed in the small intestine, and due to common intestinal
ailments, even many meat eaters who consume high levels of B-12 are
to absorb it in their gut.
This leads to a series of seemingly “mystery” health symptoms that
actually have a simple common cause: Vitamin B-12 deficiency!
of B-12 deficiency
B-12 deficiency is
shockingly widespread. Studies now show that up to 40% of the population
may be deficient in vitamin B-12
Here are some of the most common symptoms of deficiency (do you experience any
* Chest pain or shortness of breath
* Fatigue or unexplained weakness
* Dizziness, trouble with balance, and fainting
* Confusion, memory loss or dementia
* Coldness, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
* Slow reflexes or diminished nervous system function
* Pale skin or yellowing of the skin
* Sore mouth and tongue
… in addition,
B-12 deficiency can actually cause brain shrinkage, according to a
University of Oxford study (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7595423.st…).
Although more work needs to be done, research is already suggesting a link
between vitamin B-12 deficiency and Alzheimer’s.
If you (or someone you know) shows any of the symptoms listed above, I urge you
to immediately investigate vitamin B-12 and determine if a deficiency in
this nutrient may be causing your symptoms!
Again, vitamin B-12 deficiency is especially common in vegans and vegetarians
because typical vitamin B-12 sources (meats, yogurt, etc.) are simply not
present in their diets. But even meat eaters can be deficient in B-12 due to
poor digestion. This is especially true for older people who suffer a
diminished ability to absorb nutrients in their small intestine.
In addition, diabetes medications and even pain pills can interfere with B-12
absorption, and intestinal parasites can also strongly block its absorption in
for vitamin B-12
Traditionally, people who
are deficient in vitamin B-12 have received injections of B-12. This is
extremely effective because it bypasses the digestive tract and goes right into
the bloodstream. But it has one obvious downside: It requires being injected!
So most people aren’t interested in this method.
Instead, most people supplement their vitamin B-12 using nutritional supplements.
But here’s where this can go wrong: The most commonly available form of vitamin
B-12 on the market is the cheap synthetic form that’s actually bound to a
cyanide molecule (yes, cyanide, the poison). It’s called cyanocobalamin,
and you’ll find it in all the cheap vitamins made by pharmaceutical companies
and sold at grocery stores and big box stores.
Action item: If you have any vitamin B-12 supplements, check the
ingredients label right now to see what form of vitamin B-12 they
contain. If they contain cyanocobalamin, throw them out!
Cyanocobalamin is a cheap, synthetic chemical made in a laboratory. It’s
virtually impossible for you to find this form in nature. Low-end vitamin
manufacturers use it because it can be bought in bulk and added to products
with claims that they “contain vitamin B-12!” What they don’t tell
you is that the vitamin is bound to a toxic, poisonous cyanide molecule that
must then be removed from your body by your liver. Cyanocobalamin is also up to
100 times cheaper than the higher quality methylcobalamin
which we’ll talk about below.
As Wikipedia explains:
“A common synthetic form of the vitamin,
cyanocobalamin, does not occur in nature, but is used in many pharmaceuticals
and supplements, and as a food additive, because of its lower cost. In the body
it is converted to the physiological forms, methylcobalamin and
adenosylcobalamin, leaving behind the cyanide…” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12)
Removing the cyanide molecule from the vitamin and then flushing it out of your
body requires using up so-called “methyl groups” of molecules in your
body that are needed to fight things like homocysteine (high levels cause heart
disease). By taking low-quality cyanobalamin, you’re actually
methyl groups from your body and making it do more work at the biochemical
level. This uses up substances such as glutathione that are often in short
supply anyway, potentially worsening your overall health situation rather than
helping it. This is one of the reasons why low-grade vitamins may actually be
worse for your body than taking nothing at all!
Cyanocobalamin, in summary, is a low-grade, low-quality and
(cyanide) form of vitamin B-12 that’s used by all the cheap vitamin
manufacturers. I recommend avoiding it completely. It won’t kill you to take
it, of course, but there’s a better solution for B-12.
better choice: Methylcobalamin
The proper form of
vitamin B-12 to supplement is called methylcobalamin. This is the form
that exists in nature, and it is pre-methylated, meaning it’s ready for your
biochemistry to put to immediate use. Methylcobalamin has several key
advantages over cyanocobalamin:
* Increased absorption
* Better retention in tissues
* Contains no toxic cyanide
* Supports production of SAMe
As explained by Ed Sharpe:
“The coenzyme form of vitamin B12 is known as methylcobalamin or methyl
B12. It’s the only form of vitamin B12 which can directly participate in
homocysteine metabolism. In addition, converting homocysteine to methionine via
methyl B12 generates an increased supply of SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine), the
body’s most important methyl donor.” (http://www.health101.org/art_methylcobalamin…)
Every informed nutritionist knows that methylcobalamin is far superior to
cyanocobalamin. That’s why companies like Ola Loa (www.DrinkYourVitamins.com)
use only the high-end “methyl” form of B-12.
99% of vitamin B-12 supplements are wasted
Taking vitamin B-12 as an oral dose is largely a waste of money. As much
as 99% of what you swallow is not even absorbed… it’s just passed through
your body. (http://www.health101.org/art_methylcobalamin…)
There are really only three methods for absorbing vitamin B-12 that reliably
#1) B-12 injections, with no presevatives or cyanocobalamin, which is hard but
not impossible to find.
#2) Sublingual absorption.
#3) Skin absorption.
B-12 injections obviously require injections from a trained medical
professional, so few people pursue this route. Sublingual absorption is a
viable route, but nearly all the sublingual B-12 products use the cyanocobalamin
form of the vitamin (with the cyanide molecule).
A vitamin B-12 skin patch is now available that delivers methylcobalamin
through the skin, using a small medical-grade patch placed behind the ear. Each
patch delivers 1000 mcg of methylcobalamin (1,666% DV) in a steady
release over a 1-2 day period, after which the patch may be removed and discarded.
If you need help with a possible B12 deficiency please give us a call
Health and Wellness Associates