Vitamin B12 Deficiency, A Silent Epidemic

Posted By Amy Goodrich on Jun 26, 2014


Young woman in bed awakening tired insomnia hangover

 

Vitamin B12 Deficiency, A Silent Epidemic

 

Hi guys! This is a topic I know all too well. I struggled with a B12 deficiency for over 5 years. I’m not a 100% vegetarian or vegan. B12 deficiency is a common health problem not only affecting the non-animal eaters, although those are at higher risk.

Almost 6 years ago I was diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency. My body stopped absorbing this essential vitamin and supplements were of no use to me as my levels kept dropping. That’s when they decided to put me on monthly injections to bypass the digestive tract

Doctors couldn’t explain why this was happening as there was nothing wrong with me, except the vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms. Malabsorption of B12 is often seen in people with stomach issues or autoimmune diseases.

And the odd thing, a few months ago everything went back to normal after more than 5 years. And again doctors have no medical explanation for this. However, I think eating more raw veggies, especially leafy greens, fruits and fewer grains, dairy, and animal products has something to do with it… because that are the things I changed the past 6 years… and daily yoga 🙂

 

Vitamin B12 deficiency can have serious consequences

 

Vitamin B12 (or cobalamin) plays a significant role in the production of DNA and red blood cells. It is also involved in the production of our protective myelin layer around our nerves.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause several health issues like:

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Anemia
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Strange sensations and tingling in hands, legs and feet

And that were exactly the symptoms I was experiencing 6 years ago. Usually, I was always bursting with life. I loved going out with friends… but suddenly my happy life changed, and my bed and couch became my best friend… and I simply lost my love for life.

For me, the injections saved my life and brought back my energy and love for life. Now that my body has healed and kicked back into action, we eat 2 servings of organic meat or fish a week to meet our needs.

 

B12 is found only in animal products

 

B12 is produced in the gut of animals, and plants don’t need B12 for any of their internal processes, so they don’t store it either.

Many vegans and vegetarians, however, believe that certain foods like seaweed, fermented soy, spirulina, and brewer’s yeast contain B12. But those actually contain B12 analogs called cobamides and can do more harm than good. Those analogs block the intake of the real vitamin B12 and increase the need.

So if you’re a vegan or vegetarian it is important to check your levels and supplement with B12 when necessary. This is especially important for vegan or vegetarian children and pregnant woman, whose needs are greater.

B12 supplements and injections are amongst the safest supplements on the market and vitally important.

If you have been following my blog posts then you know I always advise against supplements as eating a balanced and whole food diet should meet all your needs. Well, we’ve come to the one exception, and that’s B12, especially if you don’t eat animal products.

B12 tests and supplements are cheap and easy. Even if you’re not covered by an insurance.

 

How To make sure you get your daily dose

 

Or daily need of vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms. The easiest way to meet your needs is through organic fish, seafood, eggs, and meat. 2 small servings a week should provide you with enough B12 to get you through the week.

For 100% vegans and vegetarians it is important to eat b12 fortified foods such as fortified nut milks and cereals. But make sure to pick the ones that are the least processed and doesn’t contain lots of hidden sugars. Or like said before, vitamin B12 supplements are amongst the safest supplements out there.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Not sure if this helps or if you are interested but I recently heard about a new oral prescription alternative to the injections called Eligen B12. I recently read that it works even if you don’t have intrinsic factor (so even if you don’t have normal gut absorption). Apparently it came out a month or two ago. Has anyone heard of it or tried it?

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Chloe! I have never heard of it before, but a while ago my gut healed itself and vitamin b12 levels are back as normal after 5 years of injections. Have a great and healthy day 😉

  2. I have a B12 deficiency as well. I didn’t need to get injections, they just told me to take supplements and that seemed to help.

    They had a hard time figuring out what was causing my issue since I’m not a vegan or vegetarian.

    My doctor told me that it’s rare, but your birth control can actually have an affect on your b12 levels.

    It might be worth checking out if the issue continues.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Courtney! Happy to hear that you found out what was wrong…. for me it also took them a few months and B12 deficiency definitely has a big impact on the quality of life. For me all went back to normal after 5 years of injections. Doctors don’t know why, but I believe my gut healed itself after a few years of eating healthy and living with less stress. Thanks for the tip about birth control, didn’t know that. Have a great weekend 😉

  3. Good article. I have a similar history.

    You might want to read up on MTHFR. You may have a genetic condition that limits your B12 absorption directly, or because you aren’t absorbing B9 correctly. Up to 40% of the population have this to various degrees. Taking folic acid (an artificial form of vitamin B9) in any form tends to cause more problems for them. They need their folate from raw, leafy greens, folinic acid, or methylfolate (all forms of B9) as well as B12. That may be why increasing your intake of greens provided relief.

    You can find out more at mthfr.net, or get tested at 23andme.com. Identifying and learning about MTHFR can be very significant for those with chronic or “mysterious” health conditions. Since this is all pretty new stuff (the human genome was just mapped in 2002) and most doctors aren’t trained in nutrigenomics, it can be hard to get these issues identified and treated.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Karilee for the tip. Will definitely look into that! Have a great weekend 😉

  4. Just want to share one other symptoms not discussed. I normally sleep on my side but my hips started hurting every time I tried about a year and a half ago. My mom had hip replacement surgery some time ago so I thought, oh brother, I guess I might be headed for the same surgery. When I finally went to the doctor he said he was pretty sure it was bursitis. He prescribed B-12. Within a couple weeks I could sleep on my side again. I’ve had to adjust the dose and am now taking 5000 the 7500 MG per day but am pain free.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Val for the addition. Never experienced any issues with sleeping on my side when I was B12 deficient. I’m happy to hear things are working out for you and doctors could pinpoint it to B12 deficiencies.

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