I realized I haven’t spent much time chatting about B vitamins and B12 deficiency symptoms; it’s a commonly missed/misdiagnosed deficiency that’s surprisingly common in our society. I have many clients with numerous health issues and after I dove deeper into their B12 levels and taught them what the ‘normal’ levels were, which aren’t what Western medicine thinks, they started to feel better. Many of us aren’t able to absorb B12, I had a B12 deficiency in my 20’s and now my B12 is perfecto!! No one ever told me the early symptoms of B12 deficiency or the best ways to test for it. I just listened to my Western medicine MD thinking he knew what he was doing in my 5 minute doctor’s visit. Once I started working with Integrative M.D.’s I started to dive deeper into trying to understand what I’d have to do to get my levels back up! And that’s what we’re gunna chit chat about today.
Good. Here we go!
Here’s a list of a few (not the complete full list) of diseases that mimic the symptoms and signs of a B12 deficiency.
- Autoimmune disease
- Immune Dysregulation
- Infertility for women and men
- MS (Multiple Sclerosis)
Lately I’ve been doing so much research on B12 deficiency and speaking to colleagues about how common this is than Western medicine and other folks realize. The part that really throws people off is that having a B12 deficiency mimics what people attribute to aging such as fatigue, lethargy, memory decline/loss, decreased mobility, and so on. The reasons B12 deficiency is commonly overlooked is because most doctors don’t test for it. Also, the range that you see on the blood work results is totally bogus. The reference range at the low end of the spectrum is WAY too low, which is why your levels can look normal and in range but you really have a deficiency.
So, what the heck is B12 and why do you need it?
B12 has an important role in your body- it works with folate in the synthesis of red blood cells and DNA as well as many other roles such as producing the myelin around nerves.
What are the causes of B12 deficiency?
There are a few reasons why your B12 is low. They include alcohol use, medications, pernicious anemia, low stomach acid, Leaky Gut, Dysbiosis, inflammation in your gut and exposure to nitrous oxide. Now, can you see why some people who eat lots of animal products that contain B12 are STILL deficient in B12? I get so many clients saying “My B12 is low, but I eat so many animal products and I don’t know why it’s low.” Well, it’s great that you are eating those organic animal products for your B12 but you’re not absorbing it due to some of the above issues I’ve mentioned.
Who’s at a high risk for B12 deficiency?
- People over 60 years old
- People with Chron’s disease, Celiac disease, IBS or Ulcerative colitis
- Women who have a had miscarriages or infertility
- People on diabetes drugs or acid suppressing drugs
Now, B12 is ONLY found in animal products which means that the trace element, cobalamin), is made in the guts of animal products and it’s surprisingly the ONLY vitamin we cannot get from plants or sunlight. Plant’s do not need B12 so they don’t store it. Interesting, right?
It’s not possible to get B12 from seaweed, fermented soy, spirulina and other vegetarian foods because plant foods contain B12 analogs that are called cobamides which block the intake of B12 and increase the need for B12.
Now, I’m not telling anyone to be a vegan or vegetarian or meat eater. That’s not my goal or my purpose in life. My goal is to help you and to make sure you are feeling well and getting the right results and answers you need from your doctors without feeling like you’re in the dark about your health. All you need to do is get a blood test for B12 that can be done anywhere and once you get your levels back, you can work with your Integrative M.D. to restore your levels. I had to get B12 injections in my 20’s to help me but I haven’t had one in 5 years because my levels are in great shape! You can take oral, sub-lingual or nasal supplements to treat your deficiency if needed.
Try to buy everything organic. Here’s why: The Benefits of Eating Organic.
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 2 large McIntosh apples cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil melted
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- 2 cups shaved purple cabbage
- 2 Tbsp. raw shelled pumpkin seeds
- 1 large pinch coconut flakes optional
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 large orange
- 1 pinch poppy seeds
- 1/2 tsp. orange zest
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cook quinoa according to package directions.
- Toss apples with melted coconut oil and cinnamon on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender then remove from oven and set aside for 5 minutes to cool.
- Portion quinoa, roasted apples, cabbage and pumpkin seeds and optional coconut flakes among serving bowls. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Add orange zest and serve. Add more balsamic vinegar and oil, if needed. (I don't like to have my salad sopping with dressing so if this is too dry for you, add more balsamic and oil!)