by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
Did you know that according to an article from the USDA, almost 40% of the US population is on the low normal end of vitamin B-12 and pushing the envelope for low B-12 levels.
If your low in vitamin B-12, you may be wondering right now, what does this mean to you.
Here are 5 symptoms you may be dealing with in this moment that would suggest that you are a part of that 40%.
- Feeling Fatigued and Depleted - If you feel as if you get enough sleep on a consistent basis, yet you feel daily fatigued, low B-12 is often a culprit. This could be due to a lack of red blood cells due to B-12 deficiency, thus leaving your body starved for oxygen, which equals feeling fatigued and depleted.
- Forgetfulness – While chronic forgetfulness can tie into a deeper issue with your brain, the occasional bouts of forgetfulness are often tied into a low B-12.
- Dizziness – Do you ever feel a bit unstable when you get up quickly from a seated position or maybe a little dizzy walking up or down stairs? You guessed it, likely B-12.
- Feelings of “Pins and Needles” – While is is normal to feel this if you sit with your legs crossed for too long, if you get this feeling without compressing any part of your body, this may tie into a lack of vitamin B-12’s impact on your nervous system.
- Vision Issues – Low B-12 can lead to vision issues and even vision damage. So you may notice light sensitivity, blurred vision, double vision, tracers, shadows, all resulting from damage to the optic nerve. The good news is that supplementing with vitamin B12 can help with this as well as the other signs discussed here.
So if you notice any of these symptoms and you are a part of the almost 40% of the population that is right on the edge of B-12 deficiency…
You may think to yourself “I just need to take a B-12 supplement.”
Not so fast Sparky…
Vitamin B-12 supplements are not created equal and you want to make sure that you are absorbing your supplement.
Two Most Common Forms of Vitamin B-12
- Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of B12 that I do not recommend. It’s cheap and it’s utilized based on other nutrients that you are likely deficient in also. So why take a nutrient when you need other nutrients in order to make it bioavailable and effective? Let’s not do that, right? Cyanocobalamin belongs in your trash can. So you can stop using it.
- Methylcobalamin is “the bomb” of vitamin B-12. According to most experts, myself included, the best form of vitamin B12 is the more expensive and natural methylcobalamin. This is actually the form of vitamin B12 which already exists in nature rather than being synthesized in a laboratory. Because it is natural, it is immediately ready to be used by your body and has several advantages compared to cyanocobalamin which include the following.
- It is natural and does not contain any toxic cyanide.
- It is absorbed better by the body.
- It is retained by the tissues better.
- It improves the supply of the body’s methyl donor – known as SAMe
- It may improve visual accommodation or the ability to shift focus
- The natural form stays in your body longer
I don’t think I have to say any more in regard to which is best to use. I will add though that I always recommend (and take myself) a liquid form of methylcobalamin. Most of the capsule forms of B-12 are difficult to absorb even if it is the methylcobalamin form.
Why Are You Vitamin B-12 Deficient
These are the common reasons as to why you would be deficient in B-12.
- Vegan or vegetarian – It is extremely common and likely that you are B-12 deficient if you follow this nutritional lifestyle
- Heavy use of antacids – This would put you in the high risk category
- Digestive issues and specifically low stomach acid – You need optimal digestion and especially optimal stomach acid levels to properly absorb vitamin B-12
- Celiac Disease
Additional Symptoms of Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
- Fatigue and weakness
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Confusion or loss of memory
- A tingling or numbness in your hands or feet
- Discolored, yellowish or pale looking skin
- Poor reflexes
- Sore tongue or mouth
What To Do If You Suspect B-12 Deficiency
- Test your B-12 levels easily, effectively and inexpensively
- Get a high quality liquid methylcobalamin form of B-12
- Stop the use of antacids
- Take a high quality stomach acid supplement if needed
- If you have a genetic methylation issue, use B-12 sparingly
I am confident that at this point you understand how important vitamin B-12 is for your health, how to tell is a deficiency is likely for you and what to do about it.
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