Being vegan, this vitamin has always been on my radar. Recently, I was reading a book on autoimmune diseases and it was talking about B12 deficiency being a possible cause in most autoimmune cases and alot of the studies were talking about the people eating "good sources" of B12. Good sources being animal products. So it got me thinking, in today's day animals are not raised the way they once were, they are not out on pasture eating grasses, but confined to close living quarters on slabs of concrete being fed corn and grains (and being injected with antibiotics and hormones). A very unnatural diet... B12 comes from the soil, animals don't make B12, they eat it and then you eat the meat and as long as everything is working properly in your body, you absorb the B12. If the animal is not grazing, then they are not taking in the bacteria and not storing the B12 that you would be eating. So it would make sense to me that even though these people thought they were eating food with a high B12 content, they in fact, were not and would show signs of deficiency. You don't need a lot of B12, the RDA is 2.4 mcg per day and most multivitamins provide 100 mcg. But what if that's not enough? Absorption could be an issue that some may have. If B12 is not being absorbed properly it is likely due to lack of hydrochloric acid (stomach juices) or lack of intrinsic factor. Without sufficient hydrochloric acid, the vitamin is not released from its protein source and not available for binding to intrinsic factor. Without sufficient intrinsic factor, the vitamin will not be absorbed. Another absorption issue is that if you take in too much at one time, it floods the receptors and only a certain amount is absorbed, so the amount in a multivitamin is not fully being absorbed. You need to break the dose up.
The good news is that we do recycle this vitamin, reabsorbing it over and over and it can take years for a deficiency to show up. And it is a water soluble vitamin so there is not toxicity to supplementation. The bad news is that your serum levels don't reflect your cellular levels meaning if your serum level is below 500-600 ug/ml you will likely be showing signs of deficiency but your lab work will come back normal. The range for "normal" B12 is between 200-1000. Make sure when you go for blood work that B12 and homocyteine is checked because if you are deficient in B12 your homocysteine level will go up.
The functions of B12:
Maintains the sheath that surrounds and protects nerve fibers
Promotes normal growth and bone cell activity
Helps in the production of Red Blood cells
Coenzyme for new cell synthesis
Helps maintain and repair tissues
Essential for a functioning nervous system
Reforms folate coenzyme
Helps to break down some fatty acids and amino acids
Promotes normal immune function
Irreversible neurological damage
Anemia (B12 is needed for folate conversion into its active form)
Malabsorption conditions (can occur after gastric bypass surgeries)
Disorders of the small intestines
Abnormal sensations like numbness and tingling
Clumsiness, awkward movements
Unsteady gait, loss of balance
Memory problems, confusion, dementia
So how do we get enough? If you are eating meat, then make sure that the animal has been grass fed their entire lives, if you are vegan, there are alternatives, like fortified foods for example: Red Star Nutritional yeast, fortified soy milk or supplements. If you are taking supplements, I wouldn't just supplement B12 though because the B vitamins work synergistically together, a B complex is a much better choice.
I am new to blogging so I figured I would start with something we all need...WATER! Especially with this hot weather we've been having, I thought it was a good place to start! Most people don't drink near enough water...fluids yep that's usually covered with coffee, sodas, teas, sports drinks. None of these drinks replace your need for water. In fact, most of them actually make you need more because they contain caffeine which stimulates you to release fluids from your body.
Why do we need Water? Water is one of the most important and most forgotten about nutrients. Our body is about 75% water and our brain is 85% water, without water you won't survive, every cell of your body needs water. If you don't drink enough water you become dehydrated. What does that mean, dehydrated? Technically it means your body doesn't have enough fluids either because you are not taking them in or you are losing too much. When this happens your bodily fluids become concentrated and water is taken out of your cells and your cells shrink and things don't work as well as they should. You know what else happens when you are dehydrated? The body starts to store fat...now I have your attention! It stores fat mainly because our sensations for water and food are felt the same way and most people eat the food and forget about the water. To combat this, try drinking water the next time you think you are hungry!
Water has so many functions, one of the most important functions is to clear toxic wastes from the body. If you are not drinking enough water, the toxins accumulate and can cause inflammation which in turn can cause a disease state. Water is a source of energy, it generates electrical energy inside your cells and helps to either heat or cool your body, it helps prevent DNA damage, it helps to break down food because it is a major solvent in the body, it helps reduce fatigue, it even helps to combat cancer by bringing oxygen into your body. There are so many other beneficial tasks that water does for us, we should be drinking at least 8-10 cups of water that's 64-80 oz. That is just to replace what you have lost through your daily metabolic activities like breathing and clearing out cellular debris. If you are outside sweating, you need to be drinking more! In fact, half your body weight is what you are striving for!
So how do we get in enough water? Drink water first thing in the morning to rehydrate after your nighttime fast adding some lemon to the water will help to alkalinize your body. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, drink water at least 30 minutes before meals, but don't drink water directly after meals because it will dilute your digestive juices.
Don't wait for the physical signs of thirst because by then you are already dehydrating....