Vitamin B12: what’s the importance to your health?
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that cannot be made in your body and must be obtained through diet. It is a cofactor in hundreds of biochemical reactions within your body and plays a role in liver detoxification pathways, mood disorders, hormonal imbalances, thyroid conditions, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders, osteoporosis... the list is endless.
Am I deficient?
A simple blood test can be taken to assess if your vitamin B12 levels are low. To properly absorb B12 in the third segment of your small intestine, your digestive system must have adequate levels of a co-factor called "intrinsic factor". Some medications that interfere with intrinsic factor and B12 absorption include: proton pump inhibitors (acid reflux drugs), antacids, birth control pills & metformin. If you have any issues with digestion, this can drastically impact your ability to properly absorb B12 from your diet. To bypass these road blocks, fully activated intramuscular B12 injections are administered directly into the muscle.
Signs or symptoms that you may be deficient:
Tired, weak, dizzy or lightheaded
Constipation, diarrhea or loss of appetite
Heart palpitations, shortness of breath
Memory or vision loss
Depression, anxiety or behavioral changes
Anemia, hair loss or fatigue
Nerve problems (numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, pins & needles sensation)
Mouth ulcers or glossitis (i.e. an inflamed tongue)
Unfortunately, symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to present but once deficiency has occurred, it can result in long-term complications.
What can I do to boost my Vitamin B12 levels?
There are several factors that must be investigated to figure out why your levels are low. This vitamin is water soluble, so if you are on any medication that impact vitamin absorption or if you have digestive malabsorptive concerns that impact your ability to absorb vitamin B12 from your food (particularly if you are vegan or vegetarian), we can discuss strategies to boost your levels.
If you have any questions or are wondering if you are deficient, feel free to contact me to help you get started or schedule an appointment online at Nickel Ridge.