If you have been feeling tired and run down lately then perhaps one of the reasons is because you are B12 deficient. B12 belongs to the group of B vitamins, essential for our neurological, immune, reproductive and thyroid function as well as energy production. Deficiency in B12 is very common and often misdiagnosed because the conventional blood test for B12 uses a range that does not assess for functional B12 deficiency. B-12 deficiency can take years to become clinically evident, meaning deficiency can set in long before acute symptoms appear.
I assess every patient for B 12 deficiency and the majority of those end up being prescribed B12 because they return a far from optimal level. I put the high percentage of low B12 results down to the fact that most of my patients suffer from poor gut function, in particular leaky gut syndrome – a condition where the lining of the intestinal wall has become excessively permeable over the years from a variety of causes, including excess use of antibiotics and other common medications, and poor digestion. Leaky gut syndrome contributes to poor absorption of nutrients from our food, including B12 which is absorbed through the gut.
B12 is in fact the largest vitamin, making it difficult for the body to absorb. For this reason B12 is best taken in a sub lingual form – such as a B12 spray along with a multi B complex because B vitamins are what we refer to as synergists, meaning they all work in synergy with each other and supplementing with a single B vitamin in isolation will lead to a deficiency and imbalance in the others.
B12 deficiency is typically common in vegetarians and vegans, as well those who have taken or use use ant-acid medications, type II diabetes drugs such metformin and in people over 60.
Over-diagnosis of B12 deficiency is of little consequence because it is so safe to supplement with, however undiagnosed B12 deficiency can have very serious impacts on our health , particularly in regard to neurologic damage.
B12 deficiency can cause or is associated with:
- Neurological disorders
- Brain fog, memory problems and cognitive degeneration
- Premature aging
- Learning disabilities in children
- Stroke and heart disease
- Autoimmune disease
- Male and female infertility
Dietary sources of B12 include:
B12 is found exclusively in animal foods, such as liver, seafood, eggs, beef, lamb, and cheese which is why so many vegetarian and even more so vegans are at such high risk of B12 deficiency. That said, meat eaters can be just at risk of B12 deficiency due to poor gut function.
So if you are feeling tired and run down and can’t find answers as to why, then my advice is to have your B12 levels assessed, remembering that conventional lab testing run off very different ranges, so aim to have your level around 6 x’s above the conventionally recognized deficiency level.