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Everything You MUST Know About Vitamin B12

by Dr. David Minkoff October 26, 2020 5 min read 0 Comments

Everything You MUST Know About Vitamin B12

Imagine yourself in a group of 100 people – roughly half of the number that will fit in the average movie theater. Now consider this: Roughly 15 of those people are actively suffering from a B12 deficiency. They are tired, weak, predisposed to illness, suffer from memory loss and nerve dysfunction. Some experience fairly severe symptoms, while others are gradually feeling worse – usually without even realizing it!

And no – this is not a joke or an exaggeration. According to the National Institute of Health, up to 15% of people are deficient in B12, which makes it one of the most common nutritional deficiencies.

With this in mind, we believe it is important that everyone becomes educated on this critical nutrient: What it is, what it does for your body, where to get it, how to avoid a deficiency, and then finally, the BEST ways to reap the benefits of having optimal B12 levels.

Sound good? Read on.


What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential, water-soluble vitamin your body requires to function. B12 is considered essential because, unlike many other vitamins, your body can not synthesize it on it’s own. It can only be supplied through dietary sources.

Your body uses B12 in thousands of bioactive processes, including:

  • Creating red blood cells
  • Producing cellular energy
  • Operating and maintaining your nervous system
  • Producing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine
  • Creating healthy organs in a fetus (in pregnant women)
  • Maintaining proper bone density
  • Keeping your eyes functioning properly
  • Maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails

It is important to note that plants and vegetables do not contain B12 – which is why vegetarians frequently suffer from a B12 deficiency. The primary dietary sources of B12 are animal products, such as eggs and meat, fortified grain products, and supplements. Most good multivitamins contain some B12 (though some omit the vitamin or fail to provide the quantity needed), and B12 also is available as an individual supplement.


Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The symptoms of a B12 deficiency range from mild, barely-noticeable fatigue, to life-threatening pathologies. While there are many possible physical and mental impacts of a deficiency, the most common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Brain fog, memory troubles
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • OCD
  • Pins and needles in your extremities
  • Vision problems
  • Mouth ulcers
  • A sore and red tongue

One of the more serious conditions that can occur due to a lack of B12 is a condition called megaloblastic anemia.

As you may know, red blood cells are produced in your bone marrow and move from the marrow into your bloodstream. Insufficient levels of B12 cause the red blood cells to be malformed, resulting in cells that are oversize and oval-shaped. This malformation prevents the red blood cells from moving from the marrow and entering your bloodstream, depriving your body of critical red blood cells and resulting in anemia.

Megaloblastic anemia, like any form of anemia, means that your blood cannot transport sufficient oxygen and nutrients to your cells. Anemia causes a wide range of symptoms, the most common of which are extreme fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and nausea.


Why B12 Deficiencies Occur

We should do all we can to avoid a B12 deficiency, right?

Well, thankfully, you can ensure you have enough of this critical vitamin with little effort. The first step is understanding how B12 deficiencies occur, who is most at risk, and what you can do about it.

First, we need to discuss HOW your body absorbs B12.

Most people get their B12 from eating animal products, in which case the B12 compound is coupled with a protein. This protein is broken down in the stomach through the activity of hydrochloric acid and gastric protease, an enzyme that breaks down proteins.

Once B12 is in its free form, it is combined with intrinsic factor, which is a protein secreted by your digestive system. Together, the B12 and intrinsic factor is then absorbed by the small intestine and is ready for use.

There are three common ways that a B12 deficiency can occur:

  1. Insufficient intake: The most common way to suffer from a B12 deficiency is to fail to get enough of the vitamin through diet. Vegans and vegetarians are particularly susceptible, as the only organic dietary sources of B12 are animal products such as meat and eggs.
  2. Low stomach acid: While many foods and nutrients are digested in your small and large intestine, the digestion of B12 requires healthy levels of stomach acids. Antacids, birth control pills, age-related digestive conditions, Crohn’s disease, leaky gut syndrome, and many other digestive troubles can reduce your body’s ability to digest and absorb B12.
  3. Pernicious anemia:In some cases, the body’s ability to produce intrinsic factor is compromised. This condition can be genetic or triggered by several external factors. No matter the underlying cause, pernicious anemia involves either a weakened stomach lining or an autoimmune condition that prevents your digestive system from operating correctly. Without enough intrinsic factor, no amount of dietary B12 is enough, as your body is unable to process it.

There are several groups of people who are more likely to develop a B12 deficiency due to dietary or physiological conditions, which include:

  • Vegans and vegetarians
  • Men and women over the age of 50 (as the body begins producing less stomach acid during the later phase of life)
  • Those who suffer from digestive conditions like GERD, Crohn’s disease, or celiac disease
  • Anyone who has undergone gastrointestinal surgery, including bariatric surgery for weight loss


How to Maintain Optimal B12 Levels

Okay, so enough doom and gloom about the risks of a B12 deficiency – let’s look at how we can stay healthy and enjoy the benefits of healthy B12 levels in our bodies.

Firstly, realize that optimal B12 levels are associated with the opposite of the symptoms of a deficiency, and offer a range of health benefits:

  • Increased strength and energy
  • Increased mental function
  • Reduced symptoms of mental disorders
  • Optimal neurological function
  • Healthy bones
  • A healthy heart
  • Good vision and reduced risk of macular degeneration
  • Excellent brain health
  • Healthy skin, nails, and hair

With that in mind, here are some of the top sources of B12:

  • Beef
  • Liver, heart, and other animal organs
  • Chicken
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Fortified grain products, such as cereal and oatmeal
  • Milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Eggs

If you are a vegan, you can get a synthetic B12 supplement at your local pharmacy or grocery store – helping your body to function correctly, while maintaining your vegan diet.

If you are concerned that you are unable to digest or absorb B12, or you suffer from a severe deficiency, you should see your doctor immediately. There are serum B12 formulations and intramuscular injections of B12 that can help ensure you get the nutrient despite an inability to digest it.


Nature’s TOP Source of B12: 100% Grass-Fed Glandular Organ Complex

If you are searching for the ideal way to maintain B12 levels while simultaneously supporting overall health and promoting healthy organ function, then BodyHealth’s 100% Grass-Fed Glandular Organ Complex is your answer.

This unique supplement contains grass-fed beef liver, heart, kidney, spleen, adrenals, and pancreas – all preserved with advanced freeze-drying techniques to preserve the critical nutrients your body needs. While these organs may not be known for having great taste, they ARE known as dietary superfoods and are among the best natural sources of B12 in the world.

And you can enjoy all the benefits in an easy-to-take, tasteless capsule that both provides B12 and supports your digestive system and the ability to absorb the vitamin.

The Bottom Line

Maintaining healthy levels of B12 is critical for your health. Even if you are not deficient, make sure that your diet includes foods or supplements that contain this vital nutrient – your body will thank you!



Dr. David Minkoff
Dr. David Minkoff

Dr. Minkoff graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1974 and was elected to the “Phi Beta Kappa” of medical schools, the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Fraternity for very high academic achievement. He then worked as an attending physician in infectious disease, co-directed a neo-natal intensive care unit and worked in emergency medicine until 1995. In 1997, his interest in alternative and complementary medicine led him to open LifeWorks Wellness Center, which has become one of the foremost alternative medicine clinics in the U.S. His search to find a source of the highest quality nutritional supplements led him to establish BodyHealth in 2000, a resource that could provide doctors with the best possible supplementation and education for their patients. Today, the BodyHealth products are used by hundreds of practitioners and individual consumers who seek all-natural wellness and detoxification supplements with a demonstrated high level of quality and effectiveness. In addition to their use by patients looking to heal disease, the BodyHealth products are also used by sports enthusiasts interested in achieving and maintaining optimal performance. As a 42-time Ironman triathlon finisher, (including 8 appearances at the Ironman World Championships) Dr. Minkoff has first-hand experience to help athletes achieve optimum conditioning. His expertise in protein synthesis, detoxification, and nutrition allow them to run, swim, and bike faster and longer. Today, Dr. Minkoff is an alternative healthcare expert, guest lecturer, writer, tv and radio show guest. He also authors two weekly newsletters, the BodyHealth Fitness Newsletter and the Optimum Health Report.

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