Thursday, 01 November 2018 17:02


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A B12 deficiency can go undiagnosed for years, but this is how you know it's time to take notice.

Earlier this month, a friend of mine barely avoided a horrible fall when she passed out during a hiking trip. Her diagnosis? B12 deficiency. Once she learned the symptoms, she realized it had been progressing for months, her symptoms disregarded, and her experience isn't uncommon.

It's time to put B12 in the spotlight.

Vitamin B12 is crucial for your nervous system and for creating DNA and RNA, the building blocks of every cell in your body. You need B12 to maintain everything from your mood to your digestion. Yet many people have no idea about the signs and symptoms of low B12.

In fact, a B12 deficiency can go undiagnosed for years, despite causing complex symptoms like extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and muscle weakness. If you keep forgetting your to-do list or have trouble finding the right words, pay attention. The same goes for any numbness or tingling in your hands and feet.

It's easy to ignore the signs of B12 deficiency or chalk them up to stress or busyness. But if one or more of the following are true for you, it's time to pay attention:

  • You’re a vegetarian or vegan

The only way to get vitamin B12 in your diet is by eating meat. If you avoid animal products, then a B12 deficiency is guaranteed without supplementing. In fact, that's a big part of how the "pale, weak vegan" stereotype came to be: chronic B12 deficiency causes pale skin and weakness. No need to abandon your diet preferences or moral choices, but do supplement with B12 every day.

  • You or a loved one are over the age of 50

Age brings wisdom and freedom, but sadly, it also hinders your ability to absorb B12 from your diet. Not only are you more likely to suffer from a B12 deficiency as you get older, symptoms of B12 deficiency like memory changes or a lack of energy are more easily missed. If you (or someone you care for) are over the age of 50, taking a quality B12 supplement offers the best chance of staying fit and strong. 

  • You drink alcohol regularly

If you always have a glass of wine with dinner or a nightcap before bed, then your supply of B12 is likely to be low. That's because your liver plays a crucial role in storing B12. Enjoy your Pinot noir and nights out with your friends, but supplement with B12.

  • You take acid reflux medication

Whether you take a little purple pill or have had been diagnosed with an ulcer in the past, stomach problems and the medications used to treat them prevent your body from absorbing B12. Research is only now revealing the full connection, but studies have proven this much is true: if you're treating acid reflux, you should definitely taking B12. 

  • You’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or an autoimmune disease

Blood sugar issues and disorders like Hashimoto's or lupus indicate your body is less likely to absorb B12 from your diet. Even if you're a regular meat-eater, you'll probably still need to take extra B12 supplement to maintain healthy levels.

A vitamin B12 deficiency can make you feel awful, and it's been linked to a number of scary diagnoses. Low B12 levels can increase your risk for heart disease, and they've also been linked to depression and anxiety disorders, as well as symptoms of Alzheimer's, autism, and mental illness.

Bottom line: B12 deficiency can be devastating, and it's easily avoidable. Supplementing is quick and incredibly safe; because B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, your body uses what you need and your kidneys simply flush away the rest, without any side effects.

The easiest way to take a B12 supplement is sublingually. It's especially useful for people who don't absorb B12 well in their stomachs because of medication use or other digestive issues.

If any of the five categories above apply to you—and especially if more than one applies, seriously consider today about taking B12. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 14 November 2018 18:25
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