Thursday, 26 April 2012

forgetful? fatigued? low mood? think B12..

Vitamin B12 is a key nutrient for DNA synthesis, red blood cell production, neurotransmitter release and maintenence of the myelin sheaths of nerve cells. Deficiency has been linked to depression and anxiety, higher risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, cardiovascular disease risk and more. This essential B vitamin is unique to the others as it is stored in the body, however it is also one of the hardest for our body to absorb as it can have interferring factors. This includes medications such as proton-pump inhibitors (oesophageal reflux medication), low stomach acid production, a vegan or diet low in animal foods, suffer from bowel inflammation such as Coeliac's disease, Crohn's disease or Ulcerative colitis.

Tips on avoiding a low vitamin B12 levels:

  • Include quality animal foods into your diet such as lean meats (grain-fed and organic preferably), organic eggs, probiotic yoghurt (cow's, goat's or sheep's milk). My personal preference is to avoid cow's milk and hard cheeses as it is very mucous forming to the body.

  • Include fermented soy products such as tempeh and miso soup and sauerkraut (a fermented cabbage product) - although alone they aren't a sufficient source of bioavailable B12 but still contribute to your levels. Other vegetarian foods that may be a source include seaweeds such as dulse and spirulina as well as nutritional yeast.

  • Again include fermented foods or supplement with a probiotic powder or capsule due to the beneficial bacteria which may contribute to intestinal cellular uptake (absorption) of B12.

  • Ensure sufficient stomach acidity during meals by not consuming large amounts of fluids before/during your meal. Stomach acid should be a pH of around 2 (highly acidic!) in order for pepsin (an enzyme) to breakdown protein-bound vitamin B12 and continue a cascade of events that lead to vitamin B12 absorption.

  • See your practitioner to address any inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders such as gastritis, Coeliac's disease, ulceration or inflammatory bowel disease in order to reduce malnutrition of B12 or any other nutrients. Additionally, a strategy (working alongside your general practitioner) to avoid taking medications that may inhibit your B12 absorption is encouraged.

  • If choosing to supplement, 1000mcg is a recommended daily dose however this depends on your B12 status. Sublingual tablets are available which are chewed or sucked and are absorbed via the vessels under the tongue therefore bypass poor intestinal absorption. Injections are also another method however be aware of preservatives and potential heavy metals that may be within the injectable fluid, individuals often want to avoid putting that directly into the bloodstream.

If you are concerned with your vitamin B12 status, before supplementation a simple blood test that assessing B12 deficiency can be arranged through your Naturopath or doctor. However the standard test (serum B12) is not a definitive marker, a newly discovered carrier of B12 is more accurate at ascertaining the levels and can be organised through the appropriate pathology lab.  If you require a consultation, ph. 0421323888 or email


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