Vitamin B12

As naturopathic medical students we often treat nutritional deficiencies or excesses. A common vitamin that a lot of people are below optimal or deficient in is vitamin B12 (Cobalamin). The population at greatest risk for deficiency is vegans because B12 is found naturally only in animal products. Our bodies cannot make B12 and therefore it needs to be obtained from the diet. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is found naturally in some foods and is also added to others, such as fortified cereals, milk and tofu.  

Why is Vitamin B12 so important?   
  • Required for proper red blood cell formation
  • Maintains proper neurological function
  • Aids in DNA synthesis
  • Having insufficient B12 levels puts you at an increased risk for developing anemia

So how do you know if you have deficient vitamin B12 levels? The only way to get an accurate measure of B12 status is through a blood draw. However, there are numerous symptoms that may be indicative of deficient vitamin B12 levels.  

These symptoms include but are not limited to: 
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased concentration
  • Poor memory
  • Depression
  • Irritability    
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Tingling or numbness in hands/feet  
  • Pale skin
  • Heart palpitations   

There are a few ways you can increase your B12 levels: 
  • Consume foods with high B12 content (clams, sardines, salmon, venison)
  • B12 injections 
  • B12 oral supplement     

Like many vitamins, B12 comes in numerous forms, cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, hydroxcobalamin, etc. The most absorbable form is methylcobalamin so when choosing a form of B12 in terms of a supplement look for methylcobalamin. 

Book an appointment with your naturopathic doctor to further discuss how you can assess your current B12 levels

Best in health,
Kate




References
http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/  
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=107 

13 comments:

Janet D. said...

Do avocados contain vit. B12 ??

joseph said...

This site says nothing about avacados???????

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