The Quirky Nature of B12
The quirky nature of B12, requires you to check your levels regularly. If you have poor digestion, what naturopaths call leaky gut (hyperpermeability), low hydrochloric (HCI) stomach acid, poor uptake in the small intestines then you could have low B12. Hippocrates coined the phrase – “All disease begins in the gut’’, and this couldn’t be more true than for vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 Absorption
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin as it is known scientifically) is a power house nutrient obtained mostly from animal protein foods in the diet. It relies on gastric acid in the stomach to liberate (release) the proteins that bind to it, which help to protect it from being destroyed in the stomach, as it makes it way to the small intestine. Once it reaches the small intestine, it is utilised through pancreatic enzymes which release it to intrinsic factor, the cells that help absorption. From here it is transported to cells where its functions are carried out and it ends up in the liver where it is stored. Vitamin B12 absorption requires many processes, nutrients and enzymes along the way. As you have probably gathered it can be a bit tricky to obtain in the body especially if your digestion is not optimal (ie often with chronic conditions).
What it does?
Vitamin B12 is essential for the normal functioning of all cells. It affects cell growth and replication, metabolism of carbohydrates (grains & cereals), fats and lipids (butter & oils), and protein (meats, fish & dairy). It is found in DNA (genetic material), and importantly is involved in making red blood cells (in bone marrow). It is involved in methylation processes, (conversion of homocysteine to methionine by methionine synthase), transferring a methyl group from methylfolate.
It helps to make myelin sheath and nerve cells with a deficiency possibly resulting in peripheral nerve damage and pain. B12 helps to regulate immunity and has antioxidant ability. It is important for healthy skin, mucous membranes, bones and blood vessels.
If you suffer from any of theses symptoms you may be low in B12
- Low energy, fatigue or lethargy
- Methylation issues
- Anaemia and pernicious anaemia (an autoimmune condition)
- Psychological disturbances including depression, irritability
- Impaired memory, brain fog and dementia
- Gastrointestinal disturbances such as loss of appetite, intermittent constipation and diarrhea, abdominal pain, atrophic gastritis
- Folic acid supplementation can mask an underlying B12 deficiency
Vegetarians are at risk of low B12 due to it being found in animal sources of food only. Plants do not process or make B12 because they have no cobalamin-dependent enzymes. Most microorganisms, including bacteria and algae, can make B12 which then makes its way into the food chain.
Vital Food Sources
- Lamb’s liver
- Egg yolk
- Cheese and milk
Serum B12 is usually tested through your GP. Red Blood Cell B12 is a sometimes recommended by Naturopaths. An important point is that once you have been tested a certain way it is recommended to retest the same way enabling consistency to check changes in levels.
B12 supplementation is usually taken orally (or as a lozenge to bypass the small intestine), and intravenously.
Check your vitamin B12 levels yearly to ensure no deficiency. Consult your clinical naturopath-nutritionist to ensure these levels are optimal. High B12 levels can indicate absorption and/or possible methylation issues. It is important to check with your health professional who understands optimal levels and your requirements.
Products available to support digestion through consultation with Karen in Nov 18
- Digest Forte – 50% discount
- Herbal Tincture – 30% discount
- Sublingual B12 – 30% discount (all only available in consultation).
To book with Karen Green – email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0400836254. Karen consults Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays. Saturdays (on occasions). By appointment only. consultations available via phone, internet and in person.