b12 deficiency

We’re sharing more from holistic nutritionist, Elissa Goodman, in our series detailing insights from her important new book, Cancer Hacks: We’ve covered daily detoxing, tips for reviving an exhausted nervous system and even a powerful lesson on the healing power of compassion. Join us again as we explore the risks of a B12 deficiency and what to do in the case of one (not all supplements are created equal)…

A big change in my life occurred when I started supplementing with B12. My energy skyrocketed. You know that post-workout high you get or post-coffee rush? Imagine that, with no crash.

I refer to B12 as “food for life”. I never could have imagined that I would have more energy in my 50’s than I did in my 20’s. I don’t owe it all to B12, but it is a big part of how and why I’m thriving. In fact, a lack of the right amounts B12 might be the only thing standing between you and a life filled with energy and vitality.

B12 has been called “life’s most important nutrient.” Your heart, brain, energy levels, mental health, and cardiovascular system rely on it. B12 bolsters your central nervous system (remember how important that is to overall well-being?), contributes to the formation of your blood cells, nerve cells and even DNA. B12 plays an essential role in white blood cell production, which, in turn, helps your body ward off disease. B12 also supports thyroid health and the production of melatonin and serotonin (sleep good/feel good!).

Approximately 40% of the population is deficient in B12, “life’s most important nutrient.” If you’re feeling tired, confused, unmotivated, depressed, weak, sluggish or anxious, you just might be among those who are deficient. Only a blood test can confirm deficiency; however, if you find yourself in one of the following categories you may be at a higher risk…

You Might Have A B12 deficiency If…

You’re a vegetarian:  B12 is primarily sourced from animal products; the plant foods that are sources of B12 are actually B12 analogs. An analog blocks the uptake of true B12, so your body’s need for the nutrient actually increases.

You Spent Years on processed foods: You may be on a better track now, but years of eating processed foods like MSG, gluten, high-fructose corn syrup, drinking soda, and eating takeout wreak havoc on B12 production.

You’re On Long-term hormonal birth control: Studies show that pills higher in estrogen are associated with B12 deficiencies, leading us to assume that estrogen interferes with absorption.

You’re over the age of 50: As you age, vitamin absorption decreases due to the decreasing of stomach acid. The depletion of stomach acid, coupled with an increased intake of medications, tend to lead towards deficiency.

You Take heartburn medication: Heartburn medication (Pepcid, Nexium, Zantac) suppresses stomach acid production, which is essential for B12 absorption. If you take these medications regularly, B12 deficiency can be of concern.

You Have A few drinks daily (on average):Frequent alcohol use irritates the stomach lining and contributes to low stomach acid, which contributes to reduced B12 absorption. B12 is produced in the ileum, but stored in the liver; therefore impaired liver function contributes to depletion of B12 stores.

How to Manage A B12 deficiency

It’s important to note that most oral B12 supplements are ineffective, as B12 is not easily absorbed. The body has a very refined system for absorbing this nutrient that involves enzymes and stomach factors. In addition to choosing the right supplement, these are three things crucial for B12 absorption:

Elevated probiotics: Bacterial imbalance will prevent absorption; elevating probiotics can combat this. A daily regimen of either Probulin 20 Billion, Dr. Ohhira’s Professional Strength Formula, Pure Encapsulations 50 Billion or VSL #3 (taken before bed) are recommended.

Enzymes: Taking Enzymedica Digest Gold ATPro with meals is a great way to boost enzyme production.

HCL: Juicing fresh, organic celery daily for two weeks will increase the production of HCL in the stomach, allowing for better absorption of B12. Approximately 16 ounces each morning or a small bunch juiced will do the trick.

The best way to supplement b12

Your B12 supplement should be methylcobalamin (the best form to absorb) combined with adenosyclobalmin. This is the perfect combo for supplementation. Avoid any B12 supplement with cyanoclobalamin – this is not easily absorbed.

I recommend Global Healing B12. This liquid supplement is a blend of methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin, the two most bioactive forms of vitamin B12, that are more absorbable and bioavailable. Plus, this supplement is vegan friendly.

If you need to refill your stores of this nutrient, but worry about taking too much, B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning your body only absorbs a small amount. Large amounts of B12 at one time may cause diarrhea and all-over itchiness, but this is a rare occurrence and can be avoided with proper dosing.

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. 
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program. 

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  1. Excellent article Said!

    Donna | 09.17.2016 | Reply
  2. …OR you can eat humanely raised, local, organic, pasture raised animal products and naturally raise your B12 levels without synthetic supplements…

    Renee | 09.21.2016 | Reply
  3. I think you should be very careful about doling out advice that borders on the medical when you cannot even spell cyanocobalamin correctly.

    • Thanks for catching. We take responsibility for the typo which we have corrected. Not the author

      The Chalkboard | 09.22.2016 | Reply
  4. If you have a MTHFR gene defect you can’t process Folate (Vitamin B9) and B11 from food. It’s necessary to take a special vitamin you can actually use. I take Methyfolate and Methycobalmine to fix my gene defect. It’s a simple blood test to find out if you have the gene defect, one or two defects and which defect you have. It’s estimated that 40-50% of the population has the MTHFR gene defect.

    I use brand name Methyl-Life.com because it’s the correct usable form and cheaper than other brands. I’m not affiliated with this company and don’t benefit in any way by sharing the company name.

    Once diagnosed you start stair stepping up in dosage until you find the dosage that works for you. A blood test can show if the dosage is too low or high.

    Anja | 09.23.2016 | Reply
    • Anja, I did this same genetic test (MTHFR). What a surprise to discover that I’m low on B vitamins because of a gene, AND that supplement treatment will compensate for that! My doctor put me on B-12/methyl-folate and DHEA.

      Deborah-Miriam | 10.15.2016 | Reply
  5. Methylcobalamin is also spelled incorrectly!

    Emily | 10.04.2016 | Reply
  6. As a ovo-vegan (occasionally indulging in cheese!), I did take a B12 supplement daily. After about a year of this, I had a my annual physical and the blood test showed I had a too-high level of B. Turns out the eggs were supplying enough B12. So, my best advice is next time you get a blood test for anything — ask them to check your B level! Too much is no good for you.

    Liza | 10.04.2016 | Reply
    • That doesnt make you a vegan it makes you a vegetarian. Vegans obstain from anything thats an animal product (meat, dairy, eggs, gelatin, etc). And you’re a lacto-vegetarian since you still consume dairy. If you were ovo, you’d consume eggs.

      Lady | 01.08.2018 | Reply
  7. sorry for the typo: “As AN ovo-vegan…”

    Liza | 10.04.2016 | Reply
  8. Get over it! Who cares!! Spelling things 100% correctly is not the most important thing in life.

    Ticketyboo | 10.13.2016 | Reply
  9. AMEN to that Ticketyboo!!

    Phloxyflowers | 10.15.2016 | Reply
  10. I too like proper spelling. BUT: Spelling ability and health wisdom are NOT related. I’d rather be advised by a humble herbal lady who barely knows how to read, as long as she knows what’s good for the body!

    Angie | 09.25.2017 | Reply
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    Tommy | 04.16.2020 | Reply

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