Vitamin B-12 deficiency is much more widespread than previously thought, especially for those over the age of 60. It’s estimated that one in four people over 60 may have a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Plus, there’s emerging evidence that other age groups may also be suffering from a deficiency.
Why is a vitamin B-12 deficiency so alarming? It’s because vitamin B-12 is a nutrient that we can’t do without. Our bodies are dependent on B-12 for the efficient, healthy metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, energy generation, digestion and nutrient absorption.
Adequate blood levels of vitamin B-12 are needed to:
- Help maintain normal energy levels.
- Promote healthy neurological activity and maintain mental alertness.
- Support normal homocysteine levels for healthy cardiac function.
- Help ease stress and occasional sleeplessness.
- Maintain healthy cell growth and repair.
- Promote healthy immune system function.
- Support normal metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
If you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency, one or more of these important bodily functions can be impaired or disrupted, resulting in symptoms such as:
- Feeling tired and weak.
- Vision problems.
- Loss of appetite and unintended weight loss.
- Memory problems.
- Balance problems.
- Less-than-optimal liver or heart health.
- Premature gray hair.
- Occasional digestive issues and/or constipation and gas.
How do You Get a Vitamin B-12 Deficiency?
There are two ways to become deficient: (1) not getting enough B-12 in your diet; and (2) losing the ability to absorb it.
Studies in India, which is primarily a vegetarian-based culture, found about 80% of adults were deficient in B-12. However, vegans are not the only ones who are at risk of a deficiency.
The older you get, the more likely you are to suffer from a vitamin B-12 deficiency because your digestive system naturally breaks down over time, especially if you eat the standard American diet. As you age, your stomach’s lining gradually loses the ability to produce hydrochloric acid which releases vitamin B-12 from the foods you eat.
Another common condition interfering with the absorption of B-12 is what’s called food-cobalamin malabsorption syndrome (cobalamin is the scientific term for vitamin B-12). This typically results when your stomach lining loses its ability to produce intrinsic factor, which is a protein that binds to vitamin B-12 and allows your body to absorb it inside the small intestine.
Additionally, using antacids or anti-ulcer drugs decreases stomach acids and, thus, your ability to absorb vitamin B-12. An infection with Helicobacter pylori, a common contributor to stomach ulcers, can also result in a B-12 deficiency.
Take a Supplement to Avoid a Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
It’s difficult to get enough B-12 through your diet alone, especially if you avoid eating meat because plant food sources contain virtually no vitamin B-12. Food sources of vitamin B-12 include: poultry, lamb’s liver, brewer’s yeast, clams, eggs, herring, mackerel, kidneys, milk, dairy products, or seafood. But even if you eat a lot of these foods, you may still have a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
That’s why it makes good sense to take a vitamin supplement such as Healthy Choice Naturals Stress-B Complex. Its all-natural B-complex formula provides 50mcg of B-12, along with B-1, B-2, B-3, and B-6 and the powerful antioxidant protection of high-potency vitamin C, folic acid and Biotin for increased absorption. Or, for a complete multivitamin supplement, try Healthy Choice Naturals Full Spectrum Daily Multivitamin. It provides 100mcg of vitamin B-12 in its potent formula of 56 vitamins, minerals, herbs, and important nutrients needed for optimum health.