Last Updated on June 4, 2022 by Renee’
Vitamin B12 is one the B complex group of vitamins also known as the Energy Vitamin. Vitamin B12 helps make DNA, nerve, and blood cells & is critical for brain health & a healthy immune system. It is also known by the scientific name Cobalamin & is water-soluble.
Unfortunately, like most water-soluble vitamins, Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, kidneys & other tissues & a deficiency may not show up for several years, which is a huge concern because after about 7 years of B12 deficiency there can be irreversible brain damage.
A study done in 2000 by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that up to 39% of the population is possibly suffering from Vitamin B12 deficiency.
A recent study revealed that pregnant women who had a B12 deficiency during pregnancy may later develop type 2 diabetes, as well as other serious metabolic problems.
Studies show that these babies also have a greater insulin resistance as children, which can set them up for potentially having type 2 diabetes later in life.
One-quarter of U.S. adults have low levels of Vitamin B12.
Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency:
People who use antacids on a long-term basis can also have Vitamin B12 Deficiency. These drugs, such as Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium suppress the amount of gastric acid that your stomach produces and therefore can cause Vitamin B12 deficiency.
People who drink more than 4 cups of coffee per day have a higher risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency.
Drinking Alcohol regularly also causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency.
Older people are also more likely to become Vitamin B12 deficient. As you get older, the lining of your stomach loses its ability to produce hydrochloric acid, which releases vitamin B12 from your food. If you’re over 50, it’s safe to assume that you are probably not absorbing Vitamin B12 at an optimal level. However, if you have a healthy diet, that doesn’t mean that you are deficient.
Diabetic medication Metformin (brand names Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Fortamet, Riomet, Glumetza, and others), antibiotics, anti-cancer meds, anticonvulsants, anti-gout meds, tuberculosis medications, anti-hypertensives, Parkinson disease meds, antipsychotics, birth control pills, potassium replacements & cholesterol-lowering drugs cause B12 Deficiency.
People who have GI issues are at a higher risk of a B12 deficiency because digestive problems can make absorbing the nutrient more difficult. This includes Colitis, Crohn’s disease, IBS, & Celiac disease. This is also why most people with autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s have a B12 deficiency.
Vegans & Vegetarians
Due to not eating animal products.
The best way to know if you are deficient is to have your levels checked. Normal ranges of B12 are 200-1100 pg/ml. Even though the lower level of normal is 200, if you are below 600, you might be suffering from B12 deficiency, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola. It’s better to be on the higher end of normal.
Where does Vitamin B12 Come From?
Vitamin B12 is called “essential” because your body can’t produce it. Vitamin B12 comes from animal sources such as liver, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, fish, and poultry.
This is why vegetarians & vegans have a much higher rate of deficiency. Blindness & brain abnormalities have been well documented in strict vegetarians, because of the deficiency. It is very important that they supplement or eat foods that are fortified with Vitamin B12,
Two ways that you become deficient are you are not eating enough animal products in your diet or not being able to absorb it from the food you eat also known as leaky gut.
Why Vitamin B12 is Necessary:
- Helps maintain Energy
- Prevents Memory Loss
- Boosts Mood
- Helps in maintaining heart health
- Healthy Skin & Hair
- Better digestion
- Healthy pregnancy
- Preventing Cancer
- Healthy Red Blood Cells
- Prevents Anemia (Pernicious anemia)
- Prevents Vitiligo
- Produces Adrenal Hormones
- Metabolises Fats & Carbohydrates
- Aids in Iron Absorption
- Promotes Reproductive Health
- Supports Nervous System Function
- Metabolizes Folate
- Supports Thyroid
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Low Sperm Count and Libido
- Weakness and Anemia (Pernicious anemia)
- Joint Pain
- Muscle Pain & Weakness
- Poor Memory
- Shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
- Poor appetite
- Canker Sores
- Loss of Taste & Smell
- Tingling in extremities
- Blurry or double vision
- Yellow Skin
Vitamin B12’s most important function is to build the myelin which protects & insulates the nerve endings & allows them to communicate.
If your myelin is depleted, you can experience health problems such as depression, dementia, and even symptoms that can mimic Multiple Sclerosis.
Top Food Sources for Vitamin B12:
- Beef liver – 3 oz – 81 mg
- Chicken Liver – 3 oz – 81 mg
- Clams – 3 oz. – 84.1 mcg
- Oysters – 3 oz. – 84.1 mcg
- Tuna – 3 oz – 9.3 mg
- Sardines – 3 oz – 7.6 mcg
- Mussels – 3 oz – 20.4 mcg
- Crab – 3 oz – 10.3 mcg
- Wild Rainbow Trout – 3 oz – 5.4 mcg
- Lamb – 3 oz – 2.07 mcg
- Beef (grass-fed) – 3 oz – 1.5 mcg
- Turkey – 3 ounces – 1.1 mg
- Raw cheese – 1.5 oz -1.5 mcg
- Cottage cheese – 1 cup – 1.4 mcg
- Sockeye Salmon- 3 oz – 4.8 mcg
- Raw Milk – 1 cup – 1.1 mcg
- Eggs – 1 large – 0.44 mcg
Can you get too much?
You don’t have to worry about getting too much Vitamin B12 due to it being water-soluble. That means that the body will take what it needs then flushes out the rest.
What are the Best Supplements?
Of course, food is the best option for getting any vitamins or minerals. Because oral B12 supplements are not easily absorbed, injections or a sublingual (under the tongue) spray or drops work far better, as it can be absorbed directly into your bloodstream. If you need to supplement I recommend taking a high-quality spray such as this one. This is what my daughter & I both use.
Another way to get more Vitamin B12 is with Nutritional Yeast. It is a good source of B Vitamins, including Vitamin B12. Nutritional Yeast has a nutty, cheese-like flavor that can be used as a cheese substitute in recipes. Nutritional Yeast is inactivated so you don’t have to worry about getting yeast overgrowth or infection.
Since we follow a Paleo/AIP diet & are dairy-free, we don’t eat cheese. Nutritional Yeast is a great substitute for the “cheesy” flavor. Sprinkle & in soups & stews or anywhere you want to add a cheesy flavor without the dairy. Plus you get lots of good Vitamin B12 to boot!
Here are Some Recipes to Try:
- Italian Spaghetti Squash
- Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
- Paleo Squash Casserole
- AIP Paleo Spinach Artichoke Chicken Bake
Other Vitamin / Mineral Deficiencies
Most people are deficient in these especially if you have Leaky Gut!
*NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.