Vitamin B12

Having enjoyed the unusually warm weather of a couple of weeks ago, at least up here in the Northeast, prompted me to write about vitamin D; aided by exposure to all that glorious sunshine accompanied the warmth of our early Spring. Well, that research lead me to read about vitamin B12, so sorry, but I must bore you with one more week of vitamin talk (and for all you vegans/vegetarians out there, you should pay particular attention).

Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin found in our diet (not mine, but maybe yours) with highest concentrations in liver. Vitamin B12 is also found in eggs, cheese, and some fish, with vegetables generally thought to be a poor source of vitamin B12 (sorry again vegans). This particular vitamin is not easily absorbed into the blood stream, and as such is difficult to be effective. Because of this, it requires one to take in much more of the vitamin than is actually required.

Deficiency in vitamin B12 results in a couple of potential serious conditions. For example, “subtle cognitive and neurological changes, while serious shortages can result in dementia or anemia.” (Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications, August 2005).

Some scholars speculate that there may be a connection between vitamin B12 deficiency and Alzheimer’s disease; with many patients suffering from AD showing a deficiency in vitamin B12. And, vitamin B12 is vitally important in “maintaining the health of the insulation sheath (myelin sheath) that surrounds nerve cells. The classical vitamin B12 deficiency disease is pernicious anaemia, a serious disease characterized by large, immature red blood cells.” (International Health News, www.yourhealthbase.com/vitamin_B12.html).

Unfortunately, a large percentage (30%) of folks over the age of 50 “suffer from atrophic gastritis, a thinning of the stomach lining. This condition reduces the amount of B12 absorbed by the small intestine,” demanding even higher intake of the vitamin. (Harvard Health Publication, August 2005).

So, once again, it appears that as we age many of our systems begin to fail us, thus requiring that we take extraordinary measures to ensure that we are optimizing our health. In this case, a deficiency in vitamin B12 can be easily resolved. See your doctor, have a blood test to determine vitamin B12 levels, and then take any number of dietary supplements easily found in your local pharmacy.

Be mindful to review your diet to ensure you are maximizing your vitamin B12 intake through natural methods without jeopardizing any other areas of health requirements. With age comes great responsibility.

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