B12 Is an Essential Nutrient

Are You Getting Enough B12

Image by Conceptw
Image by Conceptw

B12  is an essential nutrient.  Vitamin B12  deficiency can be sneaky and very harmful. Is can be slow to develop, with the symptoms appearing gradually and slowly intensifying over time or it can come on rather quickly. Either way, the results can be dangerous. If you are pregnant, the deficiency could result in your baby being born with a potentially disabling or fatal birth defect.

Early detection and treatment is important. “If left untreated, the deficiency can cause severe neurologic problems and blood diseases,” says Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Unfortunately, doctors are seeing a rise in B12 deficiency. This is primarily because of how foods are produced and processed today and the resulting nutritional deficiencies in the average diet.

Not so many years ago, the only people who had to be concerned about a B12 deficiency were vegans because when the diet included fish, meat, and meat products in sufficient quantities, there was generally an adequate amount of the vitamin ingested.

Vitamin B12 is found in the soil in the form of microorganisms and bacteria. Animals then absorb B12 by eating “unwashed” plants and it is passed on to humans as we eat the animal meat and meat products such as milk, eggs, etc. Today, due to farming practices, even non-vegetarians are starting to suffer with B12 deficiencies.

Even for vegans, in the past it was possible to get some B12 because foods were not washed as thoroughly as they are today. As you know with the advent of pesticides we have become much more diligent in thoroughly scrubbing and washing all plant foods.

There are some people who will be B12 deficient regardless of their diet. According to Medical News Today, “B12 deficiency anemia may also be caused by a lack of intrinsic factor – pernicious anemia. The patient’s digestive system cannot absorb B12 properly.” Thankfully, that type of issue can be treated with B12 shots.

Others who are only slightly deficient because they do not eat enough foods rich in B12, such as vegans, can be treated with B12 supplements and pills.

Because of the increasing numbers of people who are faced with this deficiency, it is wise to ask your doctor to test your blood serum levels for B12. If you show a shortage and are not a vegan, you may need to get shots. If you are a vegan, your doctor may want to try supplements first. If that does not work, B12 shots may be in order if you are not willing to try eating meat or fish.

B12  is an essential nutrient and you may not be getting enough. Be proactive – have your B12 level checked – especially if you are over 50; if you take Nexium, Prevacid, Pepcid, Zantac, or metformin, if you are a strict vegan, or if you have had weight-loss surgery.