B12 is a super-vitamin that keeps you feeling active and is key to a whole host of your body’s most important functions, including the formation of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your system.
Falling below your optimal B12 levels can cause or exacerbate a range of serious health complaints. Here’s our top tips about B12, to help you stay naturally full of life:
What role does B12 play within the body?
Vitamin B12 is a complex chemical that contains the mineral cobalt, and is often referred to as the ‘energy vitamin’.
It helps to prevent fatigue and build energy stores by supporting thyroid function and cellular methylation. However, its effects go far beyond an energy boost – the following processes are all reliant on the vitamin:
|Red blood cell formation||Cellular energy|
|Adrenal gland support||DNA synthesis|
|Nerve and brain regeneration||Reproductive health|
|Digestive health||Carnitine metabolism|
Why do we become deficient and what are the signs?
B12 deficiency is generally caused by one of two things: either a lack of B12 in your diet, or (more likely) an undiagnosed secondary condition such as ‘leaky gut’ that prevents you from properly absorbing it into your system.
Damaged stomach lining (known as leaky gut) can cause ‘Pernicious anaemia’ (or vitamin B12 anaemia), preventing you from absorbing the B12 that is a natural part of your diet.
Am I at risk?
The latest research suggests that we’re all potentially at risk. The Framingham Study indicated that up to 40% of the UK and US population have lower than optimal levels of the vitamin.
People don’t generally notice symptoms until they’re in their 30s, and the average age for a deficiency diagnosis is 60.
The following people are particularly at risk from B12 deficiency:
- Aged over 50
- Vegans or vegetarians
- Sufferers from digestive issues (e.g. diarrhoea, IBD)
- Those with an H.pylori bacterial infection or stomach ulcer
- Post-weight loss surgery
- Afflicted by acid reflux
Also, people taking the following forms of medication are at an increased risk of becoming B12 deficient:
- Blood pressure control
- Birth control pills
- Cholesterol-related drugs
- Diabetes medications
- Anti-psychotic drugs
- Antacids (which decrease the amount of B12 absorbed from food, but not from supplementation)
What are the warning signs?
While the symptoms are likely to be pronounced, they are often attributed to other causes. Here’s some of the signs to watch out for:
|Fatigue||Lack of focus|
|Tension in muscles||Poor memory|
|Emotional fluctuations||Lack of motivation|
|Infertility||Digestive issues (diarrhea, IBD)|
|Lack of energy||Hypothyroidism|
How to increase your B12 levels
Unlike most of the vitamins in our diet, B12 is not primarily produced by plants or animals. It’s mainly produced by a cocktail of bacteria in the gut.
Here’s some of the top foods to help boost your B12 supply:
|Beef /chicken liver (organic)||Sardines (wild)||Salmon (wild)|
|Tuna (wild)||Cod (wild)||Lamb (organic)|
|Scallops (wild)||Beef (grass-fed/ organic)||Yogurt|
|Venison (organic)||Raw milk||Turkey (organic)|
B12 can be killed off by overexposure to heat. So, try cooking these foods as medium rather than well-done, to maximise B12 intake.
As most B12 is stored in meats, vegetarians and vegans are especially at risk from B12 deficiency, so they could increase their dietary intake with probiotic and fermented foods, and particularly supplements.
As you’re able to generate some B12 in your gut, you should think about supplementing both your B12 levels directly, and boosting your digestive system as a whole.
For B12, methylcobalamin or hydroxycobalamin are recommended over cyanocobalamin as they can be absorbed more easily. Desiccated liver tablets are another completely natural supplement that can help to boost B12.
A balanced combination of natural supplements to boost your B12 intake would include:
- Natural Vitamin B12
- Live Probiotic Supplement
Because ‘B’ vitamins are water soluble, they leave the body quickly and so should be taken twice per day. The recommended daily dosage is 400 – 500mcg, however it’s always best to speak with an expert in restorative medicine in order to finely tune your B12 intake.
The health benefits of balanced B12 levels
It might sound a little complicated, but once you know how, it’s really easy to re-discover your natural B12 balance. And the health effects can be life-changing.
Maintaining optimal levels can reduce the risk of your health being affected in the following ways:
|Depression||Fatigue (adrenal fatigue and CFS)|
|Kidney disease||Macular degeneration|
|Memory loss||Migraine headaches|
|Decreased levels of oestrogens (women)||Decreased progesterone levels (women)|
|Increased cortisol levels||Insomnia and irritability|
And those are just the direct benefits. Optimal B12 balance is also linked to preventing these serious health concerns:
- Brain damage
- Cardiovascular disease
There’s so much at stake with B12 deficiency, it helps to stay one step ahead and maintain your natural balance long-term. Follow these simple steps to re-discover the real you and maintain optimal health for many years to come.