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Get Your B12 Levels Checked!

Posted Feb 28 2010 12:00am
Lately I feel like a frozen penquin! I can't wait til spring!


I feel VERY strongly that EVERYONE should get their B12 levels checked! My mom passed away at 48 years old of a brain aneurism. When I researched this B12 deficiency can cause loss of  blood vessel integrity and she could have been saved if her doctor checked her B12 level. Also some the symptoms of low B12 are irritability and fatigue, very common symtoms of Lupus also. The more I think about my symptoms, my mom had symptoms of Lupus too, but was not diagnosed with it.

Just last year,  at 46 years old myself, one of my doctors checked my B12 level and I was severely deficient. I now take B12 shots and B12 supplements. That doctor may have saved my life! My B12 levels have now risen to acceptable amounts. Most doctors don't routinely check B12 levels. This is another case that if your doctor doesn't check your levels routinely, you need to be your own advocate and ask your doctor to please check your B12 levels. Here is an article sent to me by email.

Dear Reader,

Here's a reminder for this week's Health Book Summary topic! Read on...

Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the United States. Because the deficiency isn't recognized until it has progressed to anemia, it is important to incorporate it into your diet via food or supplement before it becomes a problem. Linked to everything from recurring canker sores to spina bifida, this important vitamin can be found naturally in wild-caught fish, pastured eggs, unpasteurized raw milk, and humanely-raised meats. Also available in supplement form, vitamin B12 is one of the most affordable ways to maintain or improve your health.

1. "A study reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2004 found that women who gave birth to children with spina bifida had vitamin B12 levels that were 21 percent lower than those of mothers who had had healthy children. Vitamin B12 is also linked to the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that assists memory and learning." Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements

2. "Vitamin B12 supplementation has been shown to enhance sleep patterns, allowing for more restful and refreshing sleep." Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements

3. "A vitamin B12 deficiency can be caused by malabsorption, which is most common in older adults and in people with digestive disorders." Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements

4. "Given the importance to the immune system of maintaining good nutritional status, low serum vitamin B12 levels may signify that overall nutritional status is quite poor — a harbinger of further impairment of immune status and progression to AIDS. A low level of vitamin B12 is associated with faster progression from HIV to AIDS. In addition, vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin) has been shown to inhibit HIV replication in vitro. Given the safety of achieving high blood and tissue levels of vitamin B12 without toxicity, vitamin B12 therapy for HIV infection holds great promise." Michael T. Murray, N.D., Joseph E. Pizzorno, N.D., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised Second Edition

5. "One study found that women over 64 with low levels of vitamin B12 (below 280 pg/ml) were far more susceptible to osteoporotic bone loss." Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements

6. "As a result, signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may not show themselves until after five to six years of poor dietary intake or inadequate secretion of intrinsic factor. Since normal body stores of vitamin B12 may last an individual three to six years, deficiency of vitamin B12 is usually not apparent in a vegetarian until after many years. The classic symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency is pernicious anemia. However, it appears that a deficiency of vitamin B12 will actually affect the brain and nervous system first. The diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency is best made by measuring the vitamin B12 level in the blood." Michael T. Murray, N.D., Joseph E. Pizzorno, N.D., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised Second Edition

7. "More specifically, vitamin B12 deficiency results in impaired nerve function, which can cause numbness, "pins and needles" sensations, or a burning feeling in the feet, as well as impaired mental function, which in the elderly can mimic Alzheimer's disease. In addition to depression or mental confusion, vitamin B12 deficiency can present as anemia; a smooth, beefy red tongue; and diarrhea. Vitamin B12 deficiency is thought to be quite common in the elderly. Vitamin B12 is necessary in only very small quantities. The RDA is 2.0 micrograms. Vitamin B12 is found in significant quantities only in animal foods." Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

8. "Many older people become deficient in vitamin B12 because they do not produce adequate amounts of stomach acid for proper digestion. This creates a perfect environment for the overgrowth of certain bacteria that steal whatever vitamin B12 is extracted from protein in the digestive tract. Other people do not produce enough of a substance called intrinsic factor, without which vitamin B12 cannot travel from the stomach to the rest of the body, even if nothing else is standing in its way. One can have vitality and a zest for living at any age. You should not assume that pain and illness are inevitable parts of aging. You can feel better at 60 than you did at 30 by making healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle." Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements
9. "Along with protein, turkey is a very good source of selenium, niacin, and vitamin B6 and a good source of zinc and vitamin B12. Almost all of the fat in turkey is found in the skin, and the dark meat is higher in fat than the light meat. The skinless white meat is an excellent high-protein, low-fat food." Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

10. "Although many people advocate vegetarianism, the exchange list below provides high concentrations of certain nutrients that are difficult to get in an entirely vegetarian diet, such as the full range of amino acids, vitamin B12, and iron. It may be best to use these animal foods in small amounts as "condiments," rather than as a mainstay of a diet. Stay away from cured meats such as bacon, pastrami, and some types of sausages; these foods are rich in compounds that can lead to the formation of cancer-causing compounds known as nitrosamines." Michael T. Murray, N.D., Joseph E. Pizzorno, N.D., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised Second Edition

11. "Deficiencies of folic acid and vitamin B12 may cause some cases of recurrent canker sores, says Flora Parsa Stay, D.D.S., a dentist in Oxnard, California. If you have recurrent sores, she recommends taking 400 micrograms of folic acid and 200 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily." Bill Gottlieb, Alternative Cures: The Most Effective Natural Home Remedies for 160 Health Problems

12. "Although it is popular to inject vitamin B12 in the treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency, injection is not necessary as the oral administration of an appropriate dosage has been shown to produce excellent results.” Michael T. Murray, N.D., Joseph E. Pizzorno, N.D., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised Second Edition
13. "A deficiency of vitamin B12, or folic acid, results in significantly reduced white blood cell production and abnormal white blood cell responses. Folic acid deficiency — the most common vitamin deficiency in the United States — has been shown to result in atrophy (shrinkage) of the thymus and lymph nodes and significantly impaired white blood cell function. A B12 deficiency produces identical findings and is especially harmful to the ability of white blood cells to engulf and destroy infecting organisms." Michael T. Murray, N.D., Joseph E. Pizzorno, N.D., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised Second Edition
14. "Anemia is a condition in which the blood is deficient in either red blood cells or hemoglobin, the iron-binding protein that transports oxygen through the blood. Red blood cells transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body, exchanging fresh oxygen for carbon dioxide, which is excreted by being exhaled. The symptoms of anemia result from a failure of the red blood cells to provide oxygen efficiently. These symptoms include pallor, breathlessness, weakness, a tendency to tire easily, loss of appetite, constipation, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and coldness of the hands and feet." Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, Prescription for Herbal Healing: An Easy-to-Use A-Z Reference to Hundreds of Common Disorders and Their Herbal Remedies

15. "Pernicious anemia is a severe form of anemia that is due to vitamin B12 deficiency. Persons with this disorder cannot absorb any form of vitamin B12 from the gastrointestinal tract. Malabsorption can cause pernicious anemia, as can poor eating habits, gastrointestinal infection, Crohn's disease, gastric surgery, and sometimes even strict vegetarianism. If B12 levels fall too far, the result is lagging energy, depression, indigestion, diarrhea, and anemia. Ongoing vitamin B12 deficiency carries a risk of neurological damage. The most common cause of anemia is iron deficiency. Iron is an important factor in anemia because this mineral is used to make hemoglobin, the component of red blood cells that attaches to oxygen and transports it." Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements

16. "In order for vitamin B12 to be absorbed, it must be liberated from food by hydrochloric acid and bond to a substance known as intrinsic factor within the small intestine. Lack of intrinsic factor results in a condition known as pernicious anemia. The defect is rare before the age of 35, and it is more common in individuals of Scandinavian, English, and Irish descent. It is much less common in southern Europeans, Orientals, and blacks. Pernicious anemia is frequently associated with iron deficiency as well. A dietary lack of vitamin B12 is most often associated with a strict vegetarian diet." Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

17. "This [B12} vitamin deficiency often appears very gradually. Patients may describe complaints such as mental fuzziness, a sensation of burning on the tongue, or poor coordination for months or even years before a proper diagnosis is made. Anyone who has been on PPIs for many months (or years) should request a blood test for iron and vitamin B12. It's not enough to just look for vitamin B12, though. Be sure to be tested for serum cobalamin (that is vitamin B12) and methylmalonic acid (MMA). When MMA is elevated and cobalamin is low, that is an indication of a probable vitamin B12 deficiency." Joe Graedon, M.S. and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D., Best Choices From the People's Pharmacy

18. "Vitamin B12 is made by microorganisms found in the soil and by microorganisms in the intestines of animals, including our own. The amount made in our intestines is not adequately absorbed, so it is recommended that we consume B12 in food. Research has convincingly shown that plants grown in healthy soil that has a good concentration of vitamin B12 will readily absorb this nutrient. However, plants grown in "lifeless" soil (non-organic soil) may be deficient in vitamin B12. In the United States, most of our agriculture takes place on relatively lifeless soil, decimated from years of unnatural pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer use." T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Thomas M. Campbell II, The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health

19. "Another medicine that helps some patients feel better is vitamin B12, given in large doses by injection. One study done many years ago did suggest that it could improve general well being, but with only limited effects on fatigue. Medical students are taught that vitamins are useful only in patients who, for one reason or another, have a vitamin deficiency. However, enough patients have reported that vitamin B12 is helpful that I am willing to try this, especially because this vitamin is not toxic and costs so little." Benjamin H. Natelson, M.D., Your Symptoms Are Real: What to Do When Your Doctor Says Nothing Is Wrong

20. "I believe vitamin B12 deficiency to be one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the United States today because of inadequate vitamin B12 levels in food and a poor absorption of vitamin B12 associated with aging. It is impossible to have a properly functioning thyroid gland without adequate vitamin B12 levels in the body." David Brownstein, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders

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