Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient needed by our bodies.
However, vitamin B12 deficiency is very common, and it has been estimated that about 40% of North Americans suffer from it, mostly the ones diagnosed with fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Yet, many people experience its symptoms, even though they are not aware of their cause.
Here are the signs of the lack of this vitamin in the body that you should never ignore:
- Brain fog
- strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet
- difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)
- yellowed skin (jaundice)
- paranoia or hallucinations
- a swollen, inflamed tongue
Your doctor can make some simple tests to determine if you are B12 deficient. It would be best to ask for an intracellular B12 test, as the effects of this vitamin occur in the cells.
Other indirect measures are Methylmalonic Acid and Homocysteine, but they are less accurate.
Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is most bioavailable from dietary meat sources, and its vegetarian sources are rare. Here are the most common causes of vitamin B12 deficiency:
This autoimmune condition occurs when the immune system attacks the stomach cells that produce stomach acid and an important protein known as the Intrinsic Factor (IF).
In this case, they cannot produce Hydrochloric Acid and the body is not able to separate the vitamin B12 molecule from other dietary molecules.
The role of If is to transport vitamin B12 across the intestinal cells into the bloodstream, so its low levels will reduce the ability of the body to absorb B12, causing a cellular deficiency. This is common in vegetarians who are not supplementing with high-quality B12 supplements.
Poor Gut Microbiome
The good bacteria present in the intestinal tract break down foods and help the absorption of important nutrients into the bloodstream. In the case of an imbalance, nutrients cannot be properly absorbed.
To fight bad bacterial growth, you should lower the intake of sugar and consume more vegetables.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Intestinal Hyperpermeability, or Leaky Gut Syndrome, can be of several types, like parasitic infection, gluten sensitivity, dairy protein sensitivity, H. pylori and other small intestinal bacterial infections.
These form proteins that break down the walls of our gut lining, and let toxins and other molecules to enter our bloodstream, overactivating the immune system, and reducing its ability to properly absorb vitamin B12 from the gut.
In this case, avoid high-sugar foods, dairy, processed foods, and grains.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common side-effects of chemotherapy, as the medications used for this treatment irritate the gut and stomach cells. Therefore, patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment should supplement with higher doses of B12 and Folic Acid.
Very often, medications prescribed for the treatment of heartburn reduce the Parietal Cell activity, which causes reduced stomach acid and intrinsic factor levels.
Here are 5 effective ways to treat 5 B12 deficiency:
Eat more meat
You should increase the intake of lam, sheep meat, wild caught fish, free-range chicken, as well as beef liver, chicken liver, grass-fed beef and raw dairy products such as Kefir.
You will improve the absorption of B12 in the body by boosting the good microbiome population. Therefore, you should eat more high probiotic foods like Kefir, cultured vegetables such as Sauerkraut and Kimchi, pickles, Kombucha, Coconut Kefir, and dark chocolate.
Limit Inflammatory Foods
You should reduce the intake of foods that support gut and cellular inflammation, including packaged, processed, fried foods, margarine, sugars, dairy, low-quality meats, wheat and other grains, food additives, synthetic sweeteners, and iodized salt.
Desiccated Liver Supplement
If you do not fancy the taste of liver, try desiccated liver supplements.
The best choices for supplementation include Methylcobalamin and Cyanocobalamin.