Thursday, January 31, 2013

Energize With B-12

Heading to the gym, trying to get more sleep, choosing healthier food, but still you are dragging day in and day out.  Maybe its time you take a closer look and see if you are lacking vitamin B-12?  It seems that as many as 40% of all Americans are not getting enough B-12 in their diet.  Perhaps you are among this group who just don’t have enough for optimal health.  When you don’t have adequate levels of this vitamin you can often exhibit signs of increased fatigue, mood changes and dementia-like qualities, difficulty remembering things and inability to concentrate.  And these are just short term symptoms.  In the long run, these can lead to permanent nerve damage, as shown with tingling or numbing.


How does Vitamin B-12 work in the first place? Vitamin B-12 is responsible for the DNA that makes new cells, forming healthy red blood cells, and helping to convert the food we consume into the energy that powers our metabolism.

B-12 is easily found naturally in a variety of foods including seafood, poultry, beef, pork and dairy products. It is also found in foods that have been fortified, such as breakfast cereals.  And many others opt to use supplements, including sublingual formulas to meet their bodies needs.  Diets rich in meats, fish or milk can often supply the B-12 one needs to avoid insufficiencies in the diet.  However, those who follow a vegetarian diet often fall into that category of those who are more likely to fall in that percent of those falling short. Vegetarians might want to consider nutritional yeasts that can be sprinkled on foods to help any short comings.  For those who truly want to be sure to meet their needs for this energizing vitamin they might add a supplement, offered in lozenges, pills, melt-aways and even shots, to be certain to get enough. 

Those at greatest risks for a deficiency are those with gastrointestinal issues.  IBS, Chrohn’s, celiac or other gastrointestinal conditions might have an adverse affect on the absorption of B-12.  With bouts of diarrhea and irregular bowels, one may not absorb enough from the food, or in fact not produce enough intrinsic factor needed for absorption of B-12 in the small intestine.  Stomach surgeries will have a similar negative effect on its absorption.  Those on certain medications may also be at a disadvantage, as there may be an effect on stomach acids, which are related to B-12 absorption.  Additionally a great number of people over the age of 50, will have less stomach acid, which will not allow the body to properly unlock the vitamin from the food.  So supplementation for those over 50 is often recommended, where B-12 is in a free form and easily usable.

Don’t overlook the power of this vitamin.  It may not seem obvious at first, but if you are experiencing unexpected fatigue, feel a bit forgetful and seem more moodier than usual, it just may be your running low on B-12.  With so many easy remedies in your diet and on the market, don’t let this take over.  Take charge, power up and get your B-12!

Marlo Mittler, MS RD

Dietician/Nutritionist Koach

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