Vitamin B-12 wears a lot of hats. It helps with red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function, and DNA production. Our body does not have the ability to create vitamin B12, so we must get it from diet or supplementation.
Why would B12 be low?
Vegan or Vegetarian Diets - We are more prone to be deficient in B12 when following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle because it comes from meat and dairy sources.
Using Over the Counter Heartburn Medication - Over the counter medication or prescription medication for heartburn suppresses stomach acid. It may help you feel better when it comes to heartburn but low stomach acid can cause issues in B12 absorption. B12 is connected to the animal protein and needs your stomach acid to break it free for absorption.
Gastritis or Gastrectomy - Once the B12 is in the stomach free from the protein, it needs to be attached to an intrinsic factor in order to move through the small intestine. When your stomach gets inflamed or part of the stomach is removed, the stomach is unable to create intrinsic factor. This means malabsorption of B12. You may also struggle if you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s or Celiac disease due to the damage of the intestines.
SIBO - SIBO is small intestine bacterial overgrowth. When you have an abundance of bacteria that doesn’t belong in your small intestine, B12 is unable to be absorbed. SIBO is often caused by antibiotics so if you have been taking an abundance of antibiotics this is something to think about.
Low Nutrient Dense Foods - Unfortunately, our food supply has diminished in terms of nutrient density. Food is either grown in old soil filled with fertilizers or the food is fed corn that’s grown in old, bland soil. The only way around it is knowing where your food is sourced and buying from organic and grass fed farms.
What are signs that I’m low in B12?
When people come in with numbness and tingling in their fingers or toes, I often think of B12 deficiency. B12 is necessary for nervous system health because it helps create the myelin which is a protective cover around your nerves. Without sufficient levels of B12, the nervous system can be damaged due to lack of protection. It’s often on both sides when this happens affecting both the right side and left side. When it affects your nerves you may also struggle with balance and memory.
The cells of our body need B12 to reproduce. Therefore, another symptom of low B12 would be anemia. When you have anemia you may struggle with fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, heart palpitations, reduced appetite, or weight loss.
Lastly, there is a lot of discussion about B12 deficiency and depression. A lot more research needs to be done but when B12 levels are optimal they are noticing a boost in mood.
How to increase B12?
The highest B12 containing foods are liver, clams, sardines, beef, tuna, salmon, and fortified cereal.
B12 supplementation is also a great option for people. Be sure to ask your provider about brand recommendations and types out there.
Lastly, you can also get vitamin B12 through shots which is most readily absorbed because it bypasses the digestive tract. If this is something you want to try the office is partnering with MN IV, Minnesota’s premier Mobile IV hydration service, to administer the vitamin B12 shots for $15.
This event is limited to 8 individuals so be sure to grab your ticket here.