You’re exhausted all the time. Sometimes you feel tingling or numbness in your hands or feet. Your stomach is a mess, and your mood is even worse. Your brain feels foggy, and you keep forgetting simple everyday things like where you put your keys or to pick up groceries on the way home from work. You just don’t feel like yourself anymore.
Does any of this sound familiar?
If so, you could be the victim of a hidden vitamin deficiency that’s far more common than most folks imagine. Because despite what you may have heard, you don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to have a vitamin B12 deficiency. In fact, if you regularly take an acid reflux medication or are over 50, you may be at risk.
Vitamin B12 is CRITICAL for good health
Vitamin B12 is at the heart of RNA and DNA production, which means this vital vitamin is a critical part of every single cell in your body. Adequate levels of B12 are necessary for a healthy nervous system, brain function and red blood cell production. And low levels can mess with everything from your energy levels to your mood.
Research has proven that running too low on B12 raises your risk for heart disease.1 Those same low levels could send you into a tailspin of depression and anxiety.2 And we’re just beginning to learn about the vitamin’s links to autism and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.3
So how can you tell if you’re running low on vitamin B12?
This quick one-minute quiz can help you decide. Mark each “yes” answer by clicking on the box next to the question.…
|Quiz: Are YOU getting enough B12?|
|1. Are you a vegetarian or a vegan|
|2. Do you regularly drink alcohol or drink it in large amounts?|
|3. Are you over 50|
|4. Do you have diabetes or blood sugar issues?|
|5. Do you take acid reflux medications (for example Nexium or Pepcid).|
|6. Have you ever had a stomach ulcer?|
|7. Do you have an autoimmune disease such as lupus or Hashimoto’s?|
|8. Do you feel extremely tired or fatigued?|
|9. Do you run low grade fevers even when you’re not sick?|
|10. Do you have memory issues or trouble finding the right words?|
|11. Is your skin paler than it used to be?|
|12. Do your muscles feel weak or shaky?|
|13. Do you have chronic unexplained diarrhea or gas?|
|14. Do you feel short of breath when exercising?|
|15. Do your hands or feet feel tingly or numb?|
|16. Do you feel moody, depressed or anxious?|
If you checked three or more boxes, you’re at higher risk for vitamin B12 deficiency and should consider taking steps to restore your lagging B12 levels.
What causes vitamin B12 deficiency
Meat and fish are usually our main sources of vitamin B12. If you don’t eat either, then a B12 deficiency is inevitable if you don’t supplement your diet.4 But if you have stomach problems, such as trouble absorbing nutrients, or you take drugs for acid reflux or ulcers, your body may not be able to absorb the B12 it needs even if you don’t avoid eating meat.5
Alcohol can block B12 absorption too,6 so if you regularly indulge in cocktails, or you drink a glass of vino with your dinner most nights, a supplement is a good idea. Even simply getting more birthdays under your belt can rob you of B12, since studies show B12 deficiencies skyrocket with age. In fact, common B12 symptoms can easily be mistaken for Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline in older folks.7,8
Raising your B12 levels
If your B12 levels are running low, you’re in for surprise when you start taking a supplement. The turnaround is typically quite dramatic! And the great news is B12 is what is known as a “water-soluble” vitamin, which simply means you can’t get too much. Your body just flushes away any extra B12 your body doesn’t need.9
In fact, even though I’m a meat eater and my B12 is typically in the normal range I take a daily B12 supplement—a tiny berry-flavored B12 Boost—just to be on the safe side.
The most effective vitamin B12 supplements are monthly injections—not an attractive option for most folks—or a lozenge or drop that’s allowed to melt in your mouth (sublingual). Sublingual B12 is great for those who don’t absorb B12 well because of meds they are taking or stomach problems.
1. “Total Plasma Homocysteine and Cardiovascular Risk Profile – The Hordaland Homocysteine Study,” JAMA. 1995;274(19):1526-1533
2. Folate, Vitamin B12, Homocysteine, and the MTHFR 677C→T Polymorphism in Anxiety and Depression The Hordaland Homocysteine Study, Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003;60(6):618-626
3. “Decreased Brain Levels of Vitamin B12 in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia,” PLOS ONE, Published: January 22, 2016
4. “How prevalent is vitamin B(12) deficiency among vegetarians?,” Nutr Rev. 2013 Feb;71(2):110-7
5. “Proton Pump Inhibitor and Histamine 2 Receptor Antagonist Use and Vitamin B12 Deficiency,” JAMA. 2013;310(22):2435-2442
6. “Functional vitamin B12 deficiency in alcoholics: an intriguing finding in a retrospective study of megaloblastic anemic patients,” Eur J Intern Med. 2010 Apr;21(2):97-100
7. “Plasma vitamin B-12 concentrations relate to intake source in the Framingham Offspring Study,” Am J Clin Nutr February 2000, vol. 71 no. 2 514-522
8. “Associations between Alzheimer’s disease and blood homocysteine, vitamin B12, and folate: a case-control study,” Curr Alzheimer Res. 2015;12(1):88-94
9. “Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin),” University of Maryland Medical Center, umm.edu
JJ specializes in weight loss resistance related to food intolerance and has helped hundreds of thousands of people finally lose the weight and feel better fast. She shows people how to identify sneaky sugars, crush sugar addiction, and shift from being sugar burners to fat burners. She also shares meaningful advice about building resilience and maintaining a healthy mindset.
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- One minute quiz reveals if you’re low in this VITAL vitamin - September 30, 2016