As we grow older, our body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 slows down. Vitamin B12 is responsible for helping make the red blood cells and DNA. Since the human body is incapable of making vitamin B12, it’s essential that we get it from supplements or animal-based foods. But some people do not take this vitamin seriously. Because of this, they end up suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency.
In fact, a vitamin B12 deficiency can show itself in many other symptoms that are often overlooked:
- strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet
- difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)
- a swollen, inflamed tongue
- yellowed skin (jaundice)
- paranoia or hallucinations
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for humans, meaning that we cannot produce it in our own bodies, thus we are required to take it in through a dietary source.
The most common symptoms of B12 deficiency are fatigue, mental and brain fog, depression, anemia (red blood cell, white blood cell and platelet) and neuropathy. There are some simple tests that your doctor can do to determine if you have a cellular B12 deficiency.
What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
A deficiency in vitamin B12 can be caused by any of the following:
This is an autoimmune condition in which our immune system attacks the cells in our stomach that produce stomach acid and an important protein called Intrinsic Factor (IF). If these cells (called Parietal cells) are being attacked by immune cells, they cannot readily produce Hydrochloric Acid thus our body cannot separate the vitamin B12 molecule from other dietary molecules.
This is a very common condition in vegetarians who are not supplementing with good quality B12 supplements.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
There are multiple causes of Intestinal Hyperpermeability, aka Leaky Gut Syndrome. Some of the most common is gluten sensitivity, dairy protein sensitivity, parasitic infection, H. pylori and other small intestinal bacterial infections.
These issues produce proteins that break down the walls of our gut lining, thus allowing toxins and other molecules to enter our bloodstream, leading to overactivation of our immune systems. It also leads to the decreased ability to properly absorb vitamin B12 from the gut.
Poor Gut Microbiome
The good bacteria in our intestinal tract help us to break down foods and absorb important nutrients into our bloodstream. If the population of our gut bacteria is imbalanced (too much bad bacteria, too much or too little good bacteria), then this can lead to improper absorption of important nutrients including Vitamin B12.
One of the most common symptoms of gluten sensitivity and digestive issues is heartburn. Prescribed and OTC heartburn medications can cause a reduction in Parietal Cell activity, thus decreasing stomach acid and intrinsic factor levels.
One of the most common side-effects of chemotherapy is a vitamin deficiency, specifically of B12 and Folic Acid. Chemotherapeutic medications cause an irritation of gut and stomach cells and can have effects very similar to those listed above.
5 Steps can you take if you have B12 Deficiency
1. Eat more meat
2. Take Supplements
3. Include Good Quality Probiotics
4. Reduce Inflammatory Foods
5. Desiccated Liver Supplement
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